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Telecommuting woes? Get a robot

The organization I work for — the incomparable Maryland Association of CPAs — is headquartered just north of Baltimore. I live about 820 miles west, in St. Louis. I’ve been telecommuting full time for more than nine years now.

And for nine years, my team and I have been searching for a teleconferencing solution that actually works.

Spider phones, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, smart boards … they all have their advantages. They also can be really, really glitchy at times. If you can see your colleagues, they can’t see you. If you can hear them, they can’t hear you. Speaking is an exercise in disruption and chaos. No solution out there has successfully put me in the room in a way that feels seamless and completely natural.

Until now.

My boss, Tom Hood, came back from a recent conference with what could be a perfect solution. It’s called Me And My Double. At the MACPA, we just call it “the robot.” It’s basically an iPad on wheels that I can control remotely via the Double app on my own iPad half a continent away. I can drive it around our Maryland office, listen to and join conversations, and feel like I am there with the rest of the team — and without leaving my Missouri living room.

With Double, my team can see and hear me, and vice versa. Best of all, I’m not confined to appearing on a smart board or computer screen. I can move around the office and sit in on small-group conversations. It gives me a real sense of presence, even though I’m not anywhere near the office.

This little miracle is the brainchild of the folks at SilverEdge Systems and Double Robotics. They helped sponsor the conference that Tom attended, and — Tom being Tom — he test-drove it once and said to himself, “We’ve got to have one of these!”

Then came another little miracle: While Tom was wracking his brain thinking of a way to convince our CFO to let him buy one, SilverEdge President Maria Vedral sent one to Tom and asked him to play — which he was more than happy to do. I’ve used it to “attend” one staff meeting, and a colleague did the same during another meeting. I’m already thinking of how I can use it to attend MACPA conferences from my Missouri home, and we’re brainstorming other ways that the MACPA can put this tool to use.

Me And My Double is brilliant in its simplicity, and we can’t wait to figure out how we’ll use it next. Many thanks to Maria Vedral and the folks at SilverEdge and Double for helping us stay ahead of the change curve.

If you’d like to see Me And My Double in action, check out this video:

[youtube id=”0F_WKOkDm1I”]

 

 

For more information or to buy your own Double, visit MeAndMyDouble.com.

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