The metaverse is going to be the next frontier to target, and it is here to stay. So how about a metaverse workplace?
The pandemic has proved to be a testing ground for new opportunities. As we try to strike a balance between the old and the new normal, we face choices. New ways of connecting are opening up – both socially and professionally. It is now obvious that the metaverse is going to be the next frontier to target, and it is here to stay. The emerging metaverse will transform most aspects of our experiences, including social relationships, education, online commerce, entertainment, gaming, and – work.
Big Tech companies are plunging into metaverse projects like never before. This includes names like Google, Meta, Microsoft, Apple, NVIDIA, Amazon, Tencent, and Snapchat among others. Metaverse property prices rose by 700% in 2021 alone. We are sure to see more companies investing in the developing side of the metaverse – both hardware and software.
So how about a metaverse workplace?
Workplaces to have the greatest impact
In its recent whitepaper on the metaverse, JPMorgan commented that the success of the metaverse will depend on a robust “ecosystem that will allow users to seamlessly connect between the physical and virtual worlds.” Experts agree because the metaverse is being envisaged to be more than just a fancy virtual reality application. Rather, it is expected to deliver a perfect blend of virtual and in-person work experience, to shape the future of the hybrid workplaces.
The world of work is possibly where the metaverse will have the greatest impact. None less that Bill Gates has commented on his blog that “…within the next two or three years, I predict most virtual meetings will move from 2D camera image grids to the metaverse, a 3D space with digital avatars.” And that would be possible because of the augmented and immersive sense of alternative presence the metaverse offers. In his video presentation announcing Facebook’s conversion to Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, too, mentioned that “the feeling of presence” is the “defining quality” of the metaverse.
Beyond remote working
It is this feeling of presence powered by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), that allows us to exist as 3D avatars in a parallel world – all virtual, yet enabling real-life interactive experiences in real-time – which is the essential advantage of the metaverse. This can practically transform how, where, with whom, and in what capacity we work. It will materialise immersive workspaces where participants can collaborate from anywhere – but transcending the barriers of conventional audio/video meetings. It could be a game-changer in terms of closing interpersonal communication gaps caused by remote working.
- Addresses the ills of remote work:Remote working creates communication barriers. You cannot read the body language of co-workers, cannot share ideas casually to a colleague in a chance encounter, and need to over-plan meetings. This leads to team disconnect and work disengagement. But the metaverse allows virtual meetings as 3D avatars – just like you would do in the real world. This brings back the human spark.
- A common platform for all:The metaverse is a virtual space that presents a common workplace experience to everyone – whether they are dispersed throughout the world, working from home, or from the office headquarters. Even Clients can join in – just like real life – and without travelling too! And all these are beyond a video meeting, because the stakeholders here are actually coming together at a venue that can replace in-person interactions.
- Eliminates workplace bias:Hybrid work may causeproximity bias where remote workersmay be ignored in favour of in-person workers while considering promotions, project responsibilities or keymeetings with managers. On the metaverse, everyone is equal. This also eliminates unconscious and supports organisational diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Visual and 3D environment:Many problems can be solved easily if dealt with visually. This is impossible while working remotely only via audio/video collaboration. Especially in fields such as engineering, designing, architecture, or healthcare, 3D engagement is a must. This can be possible in the metaverse, where anything can be 3D-modeled – thus leading to problem-solving experiences at par with real-life.
- No limits in terms of space and infrastructure:The metaverse is boundless and limitless. Hence workspaces can be expanded at will, and infrastructure constraints are never an issue. A metaverse worker will only require digital whiteboards, digital workstations, and 3D avatars.
Replicating office culture
And then there is the issue of corporate culture – which was proving to be a challenge with remote working. Even with offices reopening, most workers do not want to be in-person full-time, and companies are in a “will-they-won’t-they” mode. And even if they go hybrid – culture is hard to keep up with some working from home and some from offices. office plans. Corporate culture indeed took a big hit due to the pandemic. However, well-designed virtual spaces can bring back the sense of belonging, establish norms of behaviour, and reinforce trust among employees. It can replicate the office culture.
Although virtual office developing companies were at work even before the metaverse came into being – they will now be exploiting it to the hilt. For such companies like Teamflow, Gather, and Virbela, the business could be roaring soon. Teamflow CEO Florent Crivello reportedly said in a recent interview: “I think the future is bright…The transition to remote is going to be the most important economic transition since the Industrial Revolution.”
Such companies design spaces not only for day-to-day office work but also for virtual meets and events – thus providing a complete office environment.
Can it replace the physical?
So, are metaverse offices going to replace the physical office? Not so fast, at least. While businesses rush to formulate new strategies for a transition from the known territory of conventional offices and remote working practices to the yet uncharted terrain of the hybrid and the metaverse, a host of issues still needs to be addressed. Most experts agree that instead of supplanting physical offices altogether, the metaverse will transform it for the better. It will be the one technology crucial in blending virtual and physical offices. As hybrid workplaces become standard practice, simultaneously connecting people both digitally and physically will be a necessity. This is where the metaverse will score as an extended option for people to connect differently. It is definitely going to be the future of the hybrid workplace.