Anyone working remote knows the feeling of being forgotten about. You see emails saying there’s a team lunch or donuts in the office. Meetings missed because you’re not invited or just because it was a spontaneous meeting. Or supporting those users like Sally, the one who likes to tell her issues in person. You miss those moments of overhearing co-workers talk about a problem where you could chime in with your opinion, or when that person you’ve been trying to reach walks by your cubical. You understand there is something to be said for being at the office. Well a company, Perch.co, is trying to change that remote island landscape.
For the last two years I’ve worked remote. I love the fact I can work from home, however when the CEO of the company says “Oh I forget you’re even around.” That doesn’t give me a sense of security or contribution. So I’ve always been on the lookout for remote type tools. Six months ago is when I found Perch.
Getting Perch has been fun, productive, and at times creepy for some. Think of it as FaceTime for the office. I only have two portals, my home office and the IT room. I use Perch as an always on virtual presence. In doing so I’m able to participate in conversations between co-workers, even call out to someone who walked into the room I need to talk with, just like if I was there. However Perch is more geared towards allowing views into multiple portals where 5 min pictures are taken allowing others to have a view to see if the person is there. They can just tap the portal of who they want to talk with and BAM! Instant video. They’ve done a lot with security too. Perch has a ‘do not disturb’ feature where it blurs the images, audio controls allowing you to control when you are heard. They’ve had their own issues but all-in-all I’m impressed.
The issues I’ve had is with disconnections and video quality. Since I’m running this as a live video stream all day I’ve noticed a couple of times a day the service disconnects. Not really sure why but normally I can just tap on the portal and it will reconnect. Other times the video quality drops quite a bit and it’s like I’m looking into a land of Mindcraft.
I’ve had a co-worker call my iPad mini presence, creepy. I’ve placed the device on one of the white boards or in the corner of the room on a book rack. I can hear the room and the conversation since I have my co-worker enable audio. During some conversations I hear something and unmute and chime in on the conversation. That’s when I get the “OMG’s, I forgot you where there!” comments. I feel Perch has closed the distance of my home office and my work office. You can read more of their customer success stories here.
OK so what do you need and what have I learned. Perch runs on: iPads and iPhones. Best to pick up some older iPads, or an iPad mini and mount them on a wall so people can walk up and start a conversation. I found getting a mount that allows the device to be off the wall and be turned at an angle works the best. I purchased the Bentley Mount Universal Tablet Wall Mount. This way I could off set the iPad at my home office about 45 degrees. As well as a long power cord so you can keep the portal plugged in. Another thing is you need a friend at the office portal who can support the portal when needed. The office portal I’ve just mounted on a white board with those wall strips.
I use the Guided function of the iOS to lock the Perch app to be the only one used to help protect the device and unwanted eyes fooling with it. All in all this has help me feel more connected and I think bring more of my presence at the office when not there. Oh and by the way, no services or payment was received for this blog post.