1. While many of of us know the term largely as a buzzword or science fiction idea, the next major step in the future of work may well lie in the metaverse – a range of 3D simulated digital worlds in which workers can engage and interact through a virtual office equivalent of on-site space.
2. The current metaverse does not yet duplicate the completely seamless and ultra-real ideal virtual world shown in science fiction stories. But it does already offer a number of feasible and useful working options, and some companies have already integrated metaverse virtual offices into their normal working structures and practices.
3. The virtual office and the metaverse offer many advantages over existing models of remote, on-site or hybrid work, while limiting some of the disadvantages. Working in the metaverse has the potential to save money, promote social engagement and spontaneous discussions, and fully integrate the workforce on a level platform.
4. At the same time, working entirely in the metaverse also opens the door to the potential stresses of more time online, more potential over-monitoring by management, and the difficulties of managing working behaviors and standards in a space where social rules and normal practices have not yet been put in place.
5. With the mass remote working experiment resulting from COVID pandemic lockdowns in 2020-21, new companies and their investors have moved into the virtual office and metaverse development space, injecting further money and research into technology and software. This investment may well bear profitable fruit in the coming decade, both for providers and business users of the metaverse.
With remote, hybrid and virtual work now integrated in many companies around the world, work in the metaverse comes ever closer to being a mainstream option, combining the advantages of both remote and on-site working models and taking them to a higher level.
From observing workplace trends, work in the metaverse is in many ways the next logical step for common existing modes of working. But what is the metaverse? And how do we work in it? This article explores key facts and themes which may be of interest to business leaders who want to keep pace with the latest in workforce technologies and patterns.
What is a virtual reality office?
A virtual reality office is an online analogue of an onsite office, offering many of the same features and facilities that workers enjoy on-site but in virtual form. This could include:
Virtual office and immersive technology platform businesses have seen a wave of major investment in the last few years since the COVID pandemic lockdowns sparked mass remote working around the globe. For example, the start-up Gather has raised $77 million, while Teamflow, another start-up, raised $50 million. Longer-standing virtual office company Virbela saw its revenues increase by 260% in the second quarter of 2020.
What is the metaverse?
The ‘metaverse’ is a term which originally comes from science fiction. It’s commonly used to describe a range of simulated 3D digital environments or worlds, where virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), social media and other virtual concepts may be networked to create a sophisticated shared user experience.
The full realization of the metaverse would be a virtual world in which people could chat, travel, work or play in a manner parallel to physical reality. This fully embodied and seamlessly interconnected virtual network is not yet a reality.
Existing manifestations of the metaverse may be used for a range of purposes including gaming (e.g. Second Life), conferences and events, or regular working. Some companies have already incorporated virtual offices or more sophisticated metaverse-type environments into their working structures.
For example, for fast-growing real estate brokerage EXP, the virtual office has been their principle place of business since day 1 and an even fuller metaverse experience might only be a small extension of existing models.
In most cases, moving wholesale into a metaverse set-up is not yet a feasible or desirable replacement for existing models of on-site, remote or hybrid working, supported by tools such as the internet and collaborative working platforms. (Wearing VR headsets or navigating complex online environments for 8 hours each day is unlikely to be acceptable to the majority of the office workforce.)
In the near future, as 3D VR and AR technologies continue to advance in step with the normalization of remote / virtual working, we can probably expect work in the metaverse to go mainstream. When this happens, there could be advantages for intelligent early adopters who understand both the current limitations and the future opportunities.
What are the benefits of work in the metaverse?
The metaverse offers and amplifies many of the benefits of standard remote working. It also retains some of the advantages of on-site working models, and extends these to remote workers, potentially boosting their motivation and engagement.
What are the potential downsides of work in the metaverse?
The metaverse does not come without its problems, some of which are inherent and others which might be ironed out as rules and norms develop around operating in the virtual office and the metaverse environment.
A final word…
Horizons operates in over 150 countries worldwide, with considerable experience of supporting remote work through virtual offices. This makes Horizons well placed to advise and assist companies wanting to take their first steps into the metaverse. Get in touch today to discuss how your business might integrate a virtual office or prepare for the future of metaverse access.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Yes, you can work in the metaverse. Work in the metaverse is already part of ordinary life at some companies, either integrated alongside partial remote and on-site working, or in a few cases entirely replacing these options. The future of work in the metaverse is currently a hot topic and an area where we can expect to see major developments as relevant technologies advance.
The metaverse is a concept which evolved from early 1990s science fiction and commonly describes a set of simulated 3D digital worlds in which virtual reality, augmented reality, social media, blockchain, product models etc.. may all be be networked to create a sophisticated and intuitive shared user experience.