Study Shows Using Telepresence Robots is as Effective as Being There

A new study from University of Zurich and University of Leipzig found that utilizing mobile remote presence technologies (MRP) amongst a distributed team creates the same effect as working with team members in-person. The study, led by Dr. Erik Wende of University of Zurich, involved monitoring the mobile remote presence system for a distributed team based in Germany over a 12-month period. They concluded that, after an adjustment period, the local and remote team members worked as if they were together in-person.  

“As Lee et al. (2011) found, the MRP system enabled a broad range of meeting types and supported encounters that otherwise would not have happened [6]. The effect of physical embodiment increased feelings of social presence—contrary to the prior skepticism of users [6, 9]. After an initial adjustment period, users were able to interact almost as if they were located together, with no significant downsides. The MRP system was found to support teamwork and collaboration similar to that of a co-located team.”

"Most significantly, we identified that the level of social interaction supported by an MRP is heavily influenced by the usage arrangements. This is particularly in terms of meeting location and scheduling. The practical measures proposed in this research offer strategies for implementing MRP to overcome the issue of conversations in virtual teams being overly task-focused, to the detriment of relational links between team members [40]."

Study courtesy of Dr. Erik Wende, University of Zurich, and Prof. Rainer Alt, University of Leipzig