We’ve spoken at length across various articles about how your working environment, including everything from its general aesthetics to it layout, colour, lighting and countless other details, can influence your productivity, motivation, health, and wellbeing as you go about your work. However, converting an entire office space in order to better meet these demands is expensive, crucial as it may be.

Aiming to bring an appealing environment into the office without the need for this hefty expense is a Reykjavik-based Icelandic start-up called Mure VR. Utilising the still-developing technology that is virtual reality, their goal is to allow workers to escape the monotony of the same old office space and work instead in a stunning location of their own choosing, all via their new ‘Breakroom’ app.

Img: Mure VR - Breakroom
Companies are already starting to recognise the benefits of providing more novel environments within their offices. These may be break areas designed purely for restorative purposes, or additions such as outdoor working areas filled with plant life, which have been specifically designed to boost productivity and mood; either way, the traditional office is fading into the background as more imaginative and intuitive ideas take hold.

“Our idea is that you could actually just sit at your desk and you could get this feeling, this psychological restoration, without having to leave the workstation,” says company CEO Diðrik Steinsson.

The app, if proven successful in the long run, could save companies a fortune all while continuing to properly address the needs of the workforce; it seems like a win-win. Also let’s face it, who doesn’t like the idea of sitting atop Kilimanjaro of pegging out on a virtual beach as you flick through your company inbox each morning?

While developing the Breakroom app, Steinsson and his team consulted with environmental psychologist Pall Jakob Lindal. With Lindal’s help and advice concerning attention-restoration theory, they were able to create virtual environments in which individuals felt comfortably immersed yet free from distraction.

Dawn Chan of The New Yorker recently got the opportunity to trial the app, and while she seemed to be impressed overall she did express some concerns with the technology. While the principle behind the app, she argues, is a good one, its limitations become apparent when performing demanding tasks or opening multiple browser windows. She also remarked on how the scenery became somewhat blurred during head movements, which provided mild distraction. On the whole however, she concluded that the app offered “just enough escape”.

If Mure VR can manage to navigate these minor issues, improving the apps memory, rendering, and general capabilities, then I would expect them to achieve at least some measure of success. I still struggle to imagine a world in which we all sit at our desks with a huge headset strapped to our faces, but the same has been said in the past about many emerging technologies and accessories which seemed somewhat bizarre at the time, so I’m willing to accept I may be wrong in that regard.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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