The metaverse is a buzzword we hear everywhere at the moment. While it is still very much an early work-in-progress, it has immense potential to revolutionize the way we work. What could this innovative new technical space bring to the table for workers? Let’s take a look.
What is the Metaverse, Anyway?
There are a lot of different terms being grouped under the wider ‘metaverse’ banner right now, so it can seem very nebulous and difficult to pin down. Especially because the true potential of this new concept is only just being explored and could shift and change at a moment’s notice.
However, it is best explained as an in-development virtual world with immense potential to change how we live, work, and play. It is cloud-based and socially immersive, with 3D avatars interacting with one another. This means you can work where you are- and that doesn’t have to be in an office.
Working in a Virtual Landscape
With the changes brought by the pandemic, we are already moving away fromsitting in an office and collaborating by being physically present in the same space. A metaverse workspace could add the power of virtual reality to the mix. Instead of simply Zooming into a meeting, could use a virtual reality headset to meet and collaborate in a fully actualized virtual workspace.
Powered by extended reality (XR) and augmented reality (AR), employees can use motion capture and spatial audio technology toentirely blur the line between reality and virtual realms. According to a recent study on metaverse workspace by ExpressVPN, 77% of employers are open to the idea of working in a metaverse while only 57% of employees share their optimism. Workers are still a bit uncomfortable with companies tracking and collecting their personal data and they fear for their privacy.
Virtual workspaces aren’t a new idea at this point- a metaverse workspace is simply that same idea of a virtual place to interact with each other powered up to eleven. Instead of 2D camera grids powering your meetings, you’ll be meeting in a 3D space as fully created avatars that look like you. Interactions can become real-time. Imagine it as entering a video game-style landscape, where hundreds (or even millions) of users can interact and socialize with each other inan entirely created office space- without leaving home (or the beach).
Training and Recruitment Goes Remote and Immersive
Building on the groundwork established during the pandemic’s remote and hybrid-work boom, the metaverse has the potential to revolutionize the training space for employees, help them to fully develop new skill sets, as well as allow for thorough remote hiring and onboarding.
VR has already proven a powerful tool for faster upskilling of staff, even without the face-to-face training opportunities that were once defaulted. Because of the reduced need for in-person interactions and travel, VT also has the potential to help reduce costs associated with staff training while boosting their training and access to the skills they need. Both hard and soft skills can be taught digitally, from complaint resolution to handling an emergency.
For recruitment, the metaverse has the potential to move past remote job interviews conducted by Zoom or MS Teams. A screen can still feel impersonal and non-engaging, whereas a metaverse interview will be almost like the ‘real thing’. You can test skills in a virtual environment, offer virtual simulations to candidates, tour the virtual office, and quickly onboard new team members. It also has the potential to be more accessible and true to life for the work environment and should help foster a better interpersonal connection in remote teams.
As always, with new technology developments, a metaverse workplace could also bring up a host of new jobs. We’ve already seen the work landscape shift immensely in the last 50 years, with some once-critical jobs now redundant and many new jobs entering the marketplace. With a heavy reliance on cloud-based and virtual working spaces, we may see virtual-specific event planners, research scientists, new forms of safety management, and, of course, a greater number of tech-related job roles become the norm. It is nearly impossible to predict what other job opportunities may come out of the same space as it develops further. We may even see digital PR job roles created.
Benefits and Drawbacks
With the metaverse removing the boundaries between remote and office spaces, you will have a workspace that looks and feels natural without the need to maintain expensive office buildings or lengthy commutes.
It will also return the social aspect of work to remote workers, allowing face-to-face meetings with colleagues, proper company‘events, and more holistic group activities. This can help tone down the isolation and loneliness many work-from-home employees face.
It should also boost productivity. All tools and resources can be accessed in a distraction-free environment, allowing for better concentration and focus. It will be customizable and flexible, and the environment can be adapted to suit the worker. Whether you need to work in a cabin in the woods or with an iconic landmark outside your window, you can create it.
Lastly, it is near-infinitely scalable. Employees can be seamlessly added, and there’s no physical workspace to block growth. Of course, there will be an expense involved in building the infrastructure that could make it difficult for smaller businesses to compete, but the savings down the line should offset this a bit.
In short, we can expect to:
- Create better hybrid work interactions, fostering productivity
- Socialize and meet others in a revolutionary way
- Redefine the standards of work
- Enable more interaction and collaboration
Immersive technologies like this are still a new conceptin workplaces, although they are already used at a smaller scale in many business environments. We may also see some hesitation to adopt thelatest technology from some traditional business environments.
The metaverse is still a concept in its infancy, but it has massive potential to impact the future of how we work. Bringing spectacular immersive and interactive features to the table could be the next big game changer in how we work and collaborate. From adding more efficiency to existing workflows to boosting our engagement with learning our work roles, the metaverse is an exciting concept for workplaces that is well worth exploring further.