Working in VR in 2021

I picked up an Oculus Quest 2 toward the end of last year at the recommendation of a few colleagues. Overall, it is an unbelievable piece of hardware for the price (as low as $299 for a fully independent headset). However, I can’t say that I’ve found a killer application. Something as simple as watching YouTube videos can become a different experience on a huge virtual screen with no distractions, but not so much as to regularly change my behavior.

This post will focus on the potential of working in VR with today’s consumer hardware and software.

Meeting in VR

Meetings in VR

With the ongoing pandemic, technology companies like ours continue working completely from home, so we are all used to having our days speckled with video conferences. Can meeting in virtual reality spice things up?

Meeting in a VR boardroom
Meeting in a VR boardroom

Current software conveniently lets you meet with other people in VR as well as others from Windows or Mac. I met 1:1 with both in VR and with a larger group mixed between PC & VR.


Attendees in VR will enjoy an increased sense of presence with others, as opposed to small 2-dimensional squares in the traditional video conference. If you’ve used a Telepresence room, I’d liken a VR meeting to be even further along that scale. Gesturing and focusing are definite strengths that make it feel like you are with a person. Participants can also gather physically, move away for side conversations, or come around a projection screen to review a presentation.

I found the variety of virtual environments helped set the tone of a conversation. You can choose to gather around a boardroom table, in an outdoor space, or in a recreational environment. As a spatial thinker, I also found the 3D space and environmental cues to make virtual meetings more memorable and discernible from each other. A day (or weeks, or months!) of video conferences can quickly blur together. Less so in VR.

Having a conversation in VR
Watching a video in VR


On the flip side, for PC attendees presence can be degraded. To them, joining a meeting is more akin to entering a PC video game, even with similar WASD controls. They are looking at a 2D window, attempting to control an avatar with a mouse & keyboard, and losing resolution [compared to video] despite being on the same platform.

Along those lines, we are all losing resolution over video, which in my opinion isn’t that great to begin with (e.g. eye contact). Currently, VR meetings are cartoonish–avatars are displayed with floating heads, detached hands, and a severe lack of facial expressions.

Working in VR

How about working independently in VR? I was pleasantly surprised by how far this experience has progressed, but it still has a long way to go.

Working on three monitors in VR


Setting up a virtual environment and virtual screens of any size and configuration is delightful. You can work from the deck of a starship, overlooking a Yosemite-esque valley, or in a harmonious mid-century modern home. Do you prefer a theater-sized screen or three monitors for different aspects of your work? It can all be configured in seconds, and it shines.

I also found the resolution on the Quest 2 to be fairly comfortable for reading text. I was worried about this, and the rough edges probably played into my general sense of fatigue, but for short periods I was completely comfortable working primarily with text on-screen.


The most glaring issue is the lack of keyboard and mouse/trackpad integration. Switching between the controllers and PC inputs leaves a lot to be desired. There is a beta gesture mode that may make the controllers unnecessary for this type of work in the future. Facebook/Oculus is also said to be working with Logitech on keyboard tracking so that an icon representation can be displayed in the VR space exactly corresponding to where it is physically, much like how the controllers do already.

Finally, it is obvious an hour in VR is more physically and mentally fatiguing than an hour spent on a PC. We’ve heard about “Zoom fatigue” during the pandemic, and in my experience “VR fatigue” is even worse. What’s more, it takes me several minutes to adjust to physical reality after wearing the headset for an extended period. It’s a slight nausea and disorientation that fades pretty quickly but is immediately noticeable when the headset comes off.


The Quest 2 technology is worth trying out if you have a personal or professional interest in virtual reality and the evolution of work. That said, the current hardware and software have not yet evolved to a place where I can see myself using it regularly. Outside of meetings, I’d question whether I could be productive at all in VR. I am most interested in seeing where the next generation of devices can take us, especially in terms of presence and human-computer interaction.

Meeting in VR