Remote working in the metaverse
Due to a virus that shall not be named, we have been working remotely for two years now. Whether this is a good thing or not, opinions are still divided. One thing is certain: although this virus seems to have thrown in the towel (knocks on wood), the chances that we will soon be heading for the office every day again are slim to none. No wonder, because working remotely has many advantages, from a better work-life balance to higher productivity and less commuting.
While many companies are still a long way from chillax with this new way of working, others (read: tech giants) are taking major leaps towards the future. And what does this future hold, oh crystal ball? More authentic forms of remote collaboration, possibly in the metaverse. (In case you haven’t been in the loop: the metaverse is a virtual universe in which you can do anything through an avatar—your digital double—from gaming to shopping to meetings. In other words, the future of the internet.)
“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.” — Bill Gates (aka: a man who knows what he is talking about)
As the metaverse becomes more firmly established in our working lives, it is no bad idea to reflect on the questions and challenges it raises. For example, how will companies organise their metaverse? The virtual aspect of the metaverse gives organisations the opportunity to create workplaces that foster collaboration and creativity. In other words: a productive, creative work environment that bridges the gap between a physical office and a virtual space—and which supports the company culture. Time to look for a way to make the most of this.
Question mark number two: does a metaverse-based work environment offer opportunities to build more equitable workplaces? Or will the existing differences be emphasised even more? For example, while a metaverse will feel quite natural to younger workers, many others will have to learn to do things in a completely new way. This means companies must continue to take issues of diversity and inclusion seriously—virtual workspace or not.
And finally, what about HR? Can the metaverse have a positive impact on the hiring of new employees? It does seem to be the case. Many companies are already experimenting with the metaverse to recruit talent. For example, Samsung organised a virtual recruitment fair, and car manufacturer Hyundai used the metaverse to onboard new employees. Moreover, employers and employees from all over the world can use the metaverse to get in touch with each other and exchange knowledge.
Will the metaverse reform the way we work, remotely or otherwise? My gut feeling shouts yes. The metaverse does promise to become the new standard for working remotely. If we are indeed going to work from home and from sun-drenched rooftops more and more, we need to look for the best way to do so—and for ways to help steer that development. Because let’s be honest: the metaverse experience is better than boring team meetings and the evergreen notification “Your microphone is off”.