Remote workers are becoming robot workers

In the latest sign of a new trend, digital agency 360i is looking for its first robot intern.

Remote workers are becoming robot workers

Imagine walking around the office, dropping by your boss’s desk, chatting with your co-workers in the break room—all from 3,000 miles away.

At the office, your face comes across a tablet screen and your feet have been replaced by control-operated wheels. But back at home, you see through the beady eye of a camera, speak through a microphone and listen through a speaker. You are a robot—a robot-equipped remote worker, to be precise.

This isn’t science-fiction—it’s reality. Right now, New York-headquartered digital marketing agency 360i is looking for its first robot intern to work with its creative team for a four-week period. While the human can work from anywhere, the robot will work out of the agency’s Los Angeles office.

Day-to-day, the robot intern will work on client briefs, attend internal meetings, present his or her work via the Beam robot and even document the experience on 360i’s Snapchat channel. The robot, called BeamPro and created by Suitable Technologies, a tech company specializing in remote work capabilities based in in Palo Alto, California, will be remotely controlled by the user through a mouse, keyboard or even an Xbox controller via Beam’s proprietary app.

“We want this intern to have the same experience that all of our interns have: one that ignites their passion for the ad industry and exposes them to agency culture,” 360i group creative director Michael Nuzzo told Monster. “Moreover, the robot intern, specifically, will be prepared for the modern workplace following their time with 360i. Remote work is becoming more and more commonplace, so any work with robots will prove valuable for future experience and positions.”

From startups to Fortune 500 companies, Suitable Technologies told Monster thousands of businesses in just about every field—finance, manufacturing, health care, retail, tech, government, entertainment and education to name a handful—are using its robot today. And this new brand of remote work could be a boon for job seekers as well as companies. Hiring robot-equipped employees broadens the typical applicant pool by eliminating two of the largest barriers to any job: geography and finances. And working remotely means you don’t have to drop everything and move to an expensive city like New York or LA or forgo any responsibilities at home.

A testament to the success that can be found through this type of telecommuting, Emily Dreyfuss has worked via robot for tech publication Wired since May 2015.

“I think the main benefit of the robot is that it humanizes you,” she told Monster. “Remote workers are so easy to forget…what the robot does is really assert your presence in a way that cannot be forgotten.”

That’s why after working remotely for a year and a half, Dreyfuss said her boss thought it might be a fun, weird and maybe even successful way to give her a physical presence in the office.

“I go from conference rooms to people’s desks, and sometimes the most successful use is when I do a ‘walk and talk’ from the conference room back to someone’s desk, so we can continue our conversation,” Dreyfuss said. “It sounds like a really simple thing to do if you were actually in the office, but it’s really pretty novel when you’re a remote worker.”

But this sort of tech hasn’t been perfected just yet. Robots get stuck in corners, they tip over, they don’t have peripheral vision and they can make it hard for the human operator to hear while stationed in loud meeting rooms.

“Also, you can’t go out of the office,” Dreyfuss said. “It’s tethered to your Wi-Fi network, so if my co-workers go out for drinks, it’s not as though I can just take the robot down the street to the bar—which I think would be really awesome.”

But there are plenty of cool ways in which being a robot intern mimics the true in-office experience. Back at 360i, the robot surrogate—which, by the way, won’t have arms or legs—will allow the intern to attend meetings, contribute to brainstorming sessions, “sit” in the kitchen at lunch and hang out in the game room.

Needless to say, you have to be comfortable getting the type of attention that’s bound to come from being the elephant robot in the room.

“You really have to be game for embarrassing yourself a lot,” Dreyfuss said. “You have to have a sense of humor and be comfortable with the fact that the robot often makes you look silly.”

Think you have the nuts and bolts to be robot? You can apply here on Monster—and be on the lookout for social challenges and assignment’s posted to 360i’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, too.


Photo Credit: 360i