Virtual environments (VEs) can create collaborative and social spaces, which are increasingly important in the face of remote work and travel reduction. Recent advances, such as more open and widely available platforms, create new possibilities to observe and analyse interaction in VEs. Using a custom instrumented build of Mozilla Hubs to measure position and orientation, we conducted an academic workshop to facilitate a range of typical workshop activities. We analysed social interactions during a keynote, small group breakouts, and informal networking/hallway conversations. Our mixed-methods approach combined environment logging, observations, and semi-structured interviews. The results demonstrate how small and large spaces influenced group formation, shared attention, and personal space, where smaller rooms facilitated more cohesive groups while larger rooms made small group formation challenging but personal space more flexible. Beyond our findings, we show how the combination of data and insights can fuel collaborative spaces' design and deliver more effective virtual workshops.
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (https://chi2021.acm.org/)