Will the Metaverse re-shape the way we work in the future? Well, yes, absolutely. In fact, many tech and gaming companies, most notably Meta, Microsoft, Epic Games and more, have already begun to venture into the world of the metaverse. For example, Microsoft brought Mesh into Microsoft Teams, in an attempt to introduce a better virtual experience on this collaborative platform.
What is the Metaverse
The metaverse refers to any shared virtual space that people can navigate using devices such as keyboard and mouse to control their avatars, or become the avatars themselves to explore the virtual space using VR headsets or other types of immersive technology. Currently, the concept of the metaverse is still being explored and developed, but we can already see its effect in certain areas of our lives, such as in immersive gaming and virtual meeting spaces. Although the technologies have yet to reach their maturity, it is without a doubt that once they do, the way we live and work will be changed drastically. In this article, we will explore three ways that the metaverse could reshape the way we work in the future.
The global pandemic has introduced us to a new form of communication, which are virtual and hybrid meetings. However, the metaverse will bring forth a form of communication far superior than what we have experienced, and provide us with even greater convenience and functionalities. Besides offering us the quick and instantaneous communication that current applications such as Zoom could offer, a metaverse virtual space can recreate a physical business space, like a meeting room, with all the attendees present in their virtual avatars, that they can customize to their likings.
This virtual office space not only re-create the physical closeness of a regular physical office meeting, it also provides attendees with the same level of freedom. For example, Facebook released Horizon Workrooms, which is a virtual workspace that employees can join using its Horizon VR headsets. Within this virtual space, employees will be able to interact with anything within the space, such as writing on a virtual whiteboard during discussions, accessing documents on their virtual laptops, or simply moving around the space to talk to different co-workers. This not only provides more flexibility and functionality, but it also promotes better teamwork dynamics as compared to a regular virtual meeting on Zoom. Virtual space of the metaverse can also be customized to suit different needs and purposes. It can be changed to a private office room for signing contracts, or to the beachside for a more relaxed conversation.
Training and onboarding experience
Aside from communication, training could also undergo drastic changes with the arrival of the metaverse. With the metaverse, more realistic simulation can be put in place to more effectively train employees. For example, PR can be put into different virtual scenarios taken from real life, and be evaluated on how they handle the situation. These tests can be repeated infinitely, while also remaining highly customizable. This ensures that those undergoing the training can improve on different areas based on the feedback, which are also instantly providing companies with far greater flexibility and control over training.
The metaverse could also provide new employees with a far more immersive and engaging experience, as compared to being handed a brochure to read on. In fact, new employees can explore what their new office space looks like before even going into the office. This will allow them to familiarise themselves with the office environment, and make them feel more comfortable before starting their work proper.
One last thing that may not have crossed the minds of most people is the possibility of new jobs emerging with the metaverse. Just like how the emergence of social media brought about social-media influencers, the arrival of the metaverse may also bring out new jobs that have not previously existed. One such job that will play an important role in the age of the metaverse would be custom avatar designers, as individuals would want to have their own unique aviators that represent who they are in the virtual space, and just like designers in real-life, there will also be a demand for virtual avatar designers.
Even though metaverse can possibly change the current workplace for the better, it is not without its flaws. Just like the rise of automation in manufacturing, the arrival of metaverse will also spell the end of many jobs in the market. Artificial Intelligence (AI) may completely take over call centers and customer services roles, eliminating the need for human employees. The extensive use of a virtual space can also lead to detrimental effects due to the lack of physical interaction. People may no longer feel comfortable meeting in real life, or have gotten so used to meeting in a virtual space anytime, anywhere, that the idea of physical travel becomes close to obsolete. This could also result in the erosion of certain cultures or norms that exist in the physical world, but do not apply in a virtual space. This can lead to an increase in difficulties of code switching between virtual and real life, making it difficult for us to interact in real life, and thus become more reliant on virtual reality.
The virtual space of the metaverse has already seen some form of utilisation or adoption by companies around the world, the technology used is far from its mature state, and more testing and R&D will be required before businesses can take full advantage of the benefits that the metaverse will bring. Even though the metaverse is the next big step of technological advancement, and perhaps re-shape the world that we know today, there still remains the question as to when it will happen. It can take years, or even decades before a virtual environment can fully replace real life experiences. However, it is important to pay attention to how it will evolve, and pick the right moment to get into it. No matter how reluctant or sceptical you may be, metaverse may very well take over our physical workplace, and re-define the workplace of the future.