A company called Anybots has developed a robot that allows a remote worker to be "onsite" without being there in person.
The robot, called QB, allows a remote worker to control the robot from his or her computer and interact verbally with colleagues as well as see them in person. Because the robot is mobile, it can follow others around the office and engage in communication that might not be possible with just a speaker phone in a conference room.
Here's a link to a PCWorld article on the new robots.
But what does this mean for the staffing industry? Will it allow staffing firms to build up fleets of robots that can be dispatched to staffing buyer locations to be operated by remote workers?
Perhaps a staffing firm seeking a worker with hard-to-find skills could find that worker in Missouri and have him or her work on a project in Florida using a remote robot. Maybe several workers from different areas could work on a single project in another area using remote robots.
Already, some doctors are using "telesurgery" to conduct surgeries on patients in remote locations. The first transatlantic telesurgery took place Sept. 1, 2001 between New York and Strasbourg, France, according to an article on PBS.org. For this article click here.
Virtual call centers have been around for some time where stay-at-home workers field customer calls, although these don't involve robots.
Technological change has always been a significant driver for change in the staffing industry, but robots, when they come, may take change to a whole new level.