So, what is the metaverse?
Last year we saw the likes of zoom, slack and teams transform the remote and hybrid working environment, and just when we thought we’d got our heads round that, we are hit with the latest game changer thats set to light up 2022 – it’s the metaverse!!
It’s defined to be a network of 3D virtual worlds focused around social connection, facilitated by the use of virtual and augmented reality to create an immersive experience. This concept allows you to be represented as a person, alongside objects from the physical world within the virtual world. Interacting with cartoon-like avatars of yourself and others, moving freely between virtual environments and places.
The metaverse is only a world away, and a possibility closer than we think. Like any new piece of technology, and latest innovations it brings a future full of potential, coming with both opportunities and risks, the good and the bad. So, how could this impact our working lives?
Is it the future of remote working?
If you thought zoom and teams were hard to get your head around, then the metaverse takes it to a whole new extreme, putting a whole new twist on the meaning of collaboration and what we once thought it was.
The metaverse will offer you a virtual representation of your working world, breaking the boundaries between the digital and physical environments, and bringing a brand new place for you to socialise and work in, thus enhancing the new norm of how we work remotely.
Working in the metaverse will create a more efficient, streamlined, and convenient working experience for both employees and employers. As well as creating better offerings for customers and clients.
The metaverse creates the possibility of engaging in a more realistic working environment when working remotely within the virtual office. For example, being able to show body language, have water cooler conversations and engage in full team meetings. Due to the more interactive and immersive elements the metaverse brings it is said to boost the productivity of employees.
So not only will it impact our lives quite significantly, but totally redefine the future, the way people work and the company culture. I mean after the pandemic, anything is possible, right?
After all, those organisations that build innovative cultures based on technology combined with a people first approach will be the ones that continue to flourish within the future. However, when it comes to the metaverse is it all just too far?
Too much, too soon?
When we have only just adapted and got used to zoom and teams as a collaboration tool, whilst also trying to get back to the old normal by doing things in person, we add in the addition of the metaverse!
It seems like a cool, innovative new concept, but could using the metaverse as a remote working tool actually hinder employee’s and be more detrimental to their health and wellbeing? Giving employees another platform where they are exposed to an excessive amount of screen time whilst being immersed into a virtual world, could lead to various unhealthy behaviours in some. Therefore, for the metaverse to be the future for remote working, employers are going to have to implement the right policies and procedures to produce healthy metaverse working practices. In order to avoid employees becoming addicted, obsessive, and burnt-out.
Will we forget how to interact in person and face to face? Bumping into the digital forms of your colleagues within a virtual office, rather than in a real-life scenario will take even more time away from that in person, face to face contact – and this contact can sometimes be severely underestimated, as to how beneficial it can be. Put this with the 4-day working week trial, and we could forget the art of communication all together.
You’ve then got all the unspoken rules of how you behave and conduct yourself in the metaverse. For example can I just walk up to you and join your conversation? Are the relationships that you create in the virtual world going to be sustainable and the same in a real-life scenario? Is the avatar you’ve made a true reflection of who you are, or is it an alter-ego version of you? Will anyone ever know the real you if they only see you in the virtual world?
With joining the metaverse movement requiring money and a greater expense due to the computer and VR headset, a further challenge this will present to workforces is that issue of digital inclusion. The digital divide will begin to widen between those who can and can’t afford it, those who can’t will evidently be excluded and won’t receive the same employee experience.
There is so many questions on the tips of everyone’s tongue regarding the metaverse, with a lot to be considered if we are to use it as an effective collaboration tool. In time we will come to learn the answers, but one thing is for sure that organisations will have to work hard to ensure healthy metaverse practices are in place, the work / life balance is not disrupted, and the issue of digital exclusion is addressed, as they are all central parts of employee wellbeing and maintaining a thriving, high performing working culture.
Companies that have already ventured into the metaverse..
It may be coming your way sooner than you think with various companies already trialling it within different contexts. For example, Walmart have focused on using it to shape their consumers future shopping experience. By selling their goods virtually, whilst introducing their own virtual currency. Microsoft Mesh have ventured into designing their own software; a collaborative platform for virtual experiences and spaces for consumers and businesses, consisting of 3D avatars, and immersive meetings. Then you have the likes of Gym Shark, who have already trialled their first meeting within the metaverse, using their avatars in a virtual meeting room. Accenture are also giving the metaverse a go through utilising it in their onboarding process with every new hire receiving not only a laptop but a VR headset, in the hope to attract and retain talent, replicating the intimacy of the workplace environment whilst preserving the flexibility and safety of working from home.
Lets work together…
Do you need help navigating your people through the new ways of work? and refreshing your culture to align with the new norm? We can help you. Read more here.