Software designed in Coralville soon will allow employees to use a virtual office to connect with co-workers from an airport, the beach or any other location.
Sococo, which is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., and has six employees in Coralville, said Thursday its Team Space product will be available on Apple iPads and iPhones in the next few months. The software has been available only on Windows and Mac operating systems.
Team Space allows subscribers to connect with other co-workers through a variety of methods, including audio, video and instant messaging, within a customizable office floor plan. The online workplace keeps colleagues connected regardless of their physical location.
Joe Cook, lead platform software engineer in the Coralville office, said Sococo uses Team Space every day to operate.
“We work within our own virtual office building online, as if we were in the physical building,” Cook said.
Within the software, avatars represent employees, and a blinking light indicates when one person is talking to another. Documents and other programs can be shared, and those without the software can join conversations by phone.
Users can ring a bell to get someone’s attention, or knock on the door to the person’s virtual office. Encryption ensures private conversations in each office or conference room.
Two of the principal founding engineers of the technology, Joe Altmaier and Bob Butler, work in Coralville. Cook said Team Space initially was designed for demonstration purposes only, but has become the company’s flagship product.
Cook, who joined Sococo about six months ago, worked in a traditional office at his previous employer and was not sure how well he would transition to a virtual office.
“Moving from a physical paradigm of an office to a virtual paradigm was very jarring for me, at first,” Cook said. “But remarkably, within days, I just kind of got past that. Now I don’t even think about it.”
Cook said the technology is useful for businesses that have offices in multiple locations or employees who work remotely. Subscribers can select an office floor plan from a catalog, or Sococo’s graphic artists will design one from scratch.
“We’re seeing a rise with more and more telecommuters around the states and abroad,” Cook said. “I think we’re well-positioned to assist companies that want to keep those lines of communication open.”