Virtual and Augmented Reality are topic of many cyberpunk or similar books, yet I cannot recollect of those authors who approach to describe a VR/AR immersed workplaces in a more or less "hard sci-fi" style i.e. going to more detail and following laws of physics etc. Assuming that there are still be many, let's reduce this workplace types to work of a software engineer.

To give an idea - but not a possible answer - let's take Viktor Pelevin's idea of a virtual cube-like tool allowing to explore facets of a phrase in "S.N.U.F.F" (2011) (my own translation):

Grym uploaded the germ of his perplexity and sadness in the creative unit, touched axes "heartier", "sincerier" and then the sub-axis "salinger", which popped in the terminal sectors of the intimate afterburner.

Another good workplace example which is quite close but neither correct, is the protagonist in the movie "Zero Theorem" (2013) who has to solve that theorem using a 3D gaming interface.

Correct answer is the earliest example of a VR/AR workplace which appears more "hard sci-fi" than "fantasy", describing activities related to software engineering.

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    Recommendation questions are off-topic here, but you can drop by our chat. Jun 20 '17 at 18:09
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    Whatever you edit this into, you're essentially asking for works, which is off-topic. It doesn't matter how detailed you ask the answers to be, experience shows a good portion of the answerers will not even read your question past its title. I'm sorry :( Jun 20 '17 at 18:29
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    That is identifying a specific story, if you were looking for one specific story, that would be fine.
    – Edlothiad
    Jun 20 '17 at 18:36
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    @J.Doe: Are you looking for a specific story? Then yes. Side note, there is an unofficial dodge where you ask for the earliest story with that element, but I'd advise to only do that if that truly is what you're looking for.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 20 '17 at 18:53
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    Certainly not the earliest example, but I'll plug The Lifecycle of Software Objects, by Ted Chiang. They spend much of the story developing companion AIs in a virtual workplace. Fairly early by my standards, but not specifically a software workplace is Permutation City, by Greg Egan. And for VR workplaces in sci-fi so hard it's basically philosophy, try Age of Em, by Robin Hanson.
    – Charles_F
    Jun 21 '17 at 3:39

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