Alain Onesti, an Executive IT at a global Recruitment Company and expert in Metaverse and Virtual Workplaces Author of the book “AI, My New Colleague” examines that our best work will be able to happen anywhere inside the metaverse.
Compared to a few years ago, the future of employment appears to be significantly different. More and more companies are expanding their professional activities online as a result of the development of new technologies like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and the Metaverse.
The Metaverse offers enhanced flexibility, effectiveness, and productivity, among other advantages. Businesses that have already transitioned are reporting interesting outcomes. The future of work is hybrid, even though it occasionally stinks. The metaverse, but for work, is what a rising number of businesses believe to be the answer.
Regardless of the epidemic and employers’ will they or won’t they office plans, the majority of employees do not want to be on-site full-time. Significant players seek to enhance remote and hybrid work by developing ongoing digital places that you may log into as an identity. It gives a new meaning to the term “virtual office.”
What is a Metaverse and Metaverse Office?
An online virtual environment called the metaverse exists. People can explore and engage with a variety of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) worlds that make up this system. Imagine it as a digital website of the actual world where you can interact with new people, go to new locations, and pretty much do whatever you can think of.
Being able to conduct business from any location is one of the main benefits of working in the metaverse. You are no longer confined to a single location with a virtual office. Essentially, this means that you are free to choose where you wish to live and work. Additionally, you have the freedom to choose your own hours and adjust your schedule to fit your needs.
A metaverse office can serve as a company’s sole virtual site for decentralized and remote businesses, while such a workplace solution can be added by centralized businesses. Businesses have a choice of platforms (like as Microsoft’s “Mesh” or Meta’s “Horizon Worlds”) created expressly to accommodate the structure of office work, or they can choose to build a completely unique metaverse “workspace” from scratch within a specific operating metaverse.
When workers can brainstorm, connect, and communicate organically, productivity and collaboration increase; this is precisely what the metaverse intends to enable. But the advantages go beyond only the actual work.
Customized avatars will make casual social interactions with coworkers more natural and elevate the impromptu water-cooler talk to a new digital level. The metaverse is a solution that will assist in levelling the playing field by removing proximity bias between individuals participating remotely and those working from the office.
Working in the Metaverse: What Virtual Office life could be like?
Metaverse, a term for an extension of the virtual workplace, was created by fusing the terms “meta,” which refers to a higher order, and “universe,” which refers to the cosmos or space. As more and more IT organisations throughout the world announce their debut into the market, this technology is receiving increased attention.
One of the biggest technology expos in the world, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in the United States in January 2022, gained interest for its metaverse-related inventions. Japanese businesses also made a strong showing, and a group firm of a maker of general electronics unveiled VR eyewear that let users experience virtual environments with high-definition video.
Also gaining popularity were mountable thermo-devices that let users experience heat and cold in the metaverse and applications that let users engage with friends by creating 3D versions of themselves.
The adoption of the fifth-generation mobile communication system, 5G, is propelling advancements in the creation and performance of AR and VR display devices, such as smart glasses and head-mounted displays, in the market for metaverse-related VR and AR.
Onesti believes that the digital gap is now more about skills and mindset in the context of the workplace than it is about having access to devices and internet. Many seasoned professionals are only familiar with the very fundamentals of email, web searching, and Microsoft Office. When something goes wrong, they heavily rely on close coworkers or the IT help desk.
The majority of workers have described remote work during the pandemic as switching between messaging applications and video conferencing services like Slack, Teams, and Miro using the alt-tab key. And there is unquestionably a great deal of space for improvement.
According to academic studies, when coworkers operate remotely, it negatively affects their ability to collaborate. Communication is hampered since real-time in-person talks are being replaced by exchanges over email or Slack.
Google has asserted that casual conversations at coffee shops and lunch counters on its campus are what gave rise to technologies like Gmail and Street View. But with remote working, these kinds of beautiful moments practically disappear.
The main benefit of remote or hybrid work is well-known and potent. This promise might be summed up as radical flexibility in terms of the places where we can be productive. But in order for this new world to materialize and for us to truly be free to work from anywhere, we must first address a significant issue. Remote and hybrid workers frequently switch between their homes, offices, coffee shops, coworking spaces, and other locations.
Although the versatility is excellent, it is hard to exclusively use one particular area, workstation, or even PC setup when working this manner. Instead, the optimal arrangement is continuously made and redone by the workforce. Or improvising with a less than ideal one. What is the result? lost productivity, energy, and time.
Onesti examines that the metaverse will present innovative and potent answers to that problem in the next years. Millions of people will be able to travel with their private or shared work bubble thanks to a step-in internet. We refer to it as the “infinite office” because of this.
Solutions to various issues associated to remote working are now possible because to technological advancements. There is existing collaboration software like Meta’s Horizon Workrooms and Microsoft Mesh that enables coworkers to meet as VR avatars or participate in a real-world meeting as a photo-realistic hologram.
Businesses will undoubtedly create persistent VR work spaces in the metaverse 1.0 where employees may communicate in real time as embodied characters. It is possible to create chance encounters and informal conversations in virtual reality simulations of offices.
Impact of Working in the Metaverse
Alain Onesti believes that our personal and professional lives could be revolutionized by virtual reality. The switch to the metaverse might completely alter the commercial landscape. Employees may work from anywhere in the world with the help of virtual offices, and marketing initiatives could be expanded greatly.
Businesses can already operate remotely thanks to different virtual offices, but the metaverse adds a new visual dimension. Our personal life might be significantly impacted by the metaverse. Virtual reality has the power to take us to other realms and provide us experiences that are not possible in the physical world. The metaverse might even turn into a second home for some people.
Working as an Avatar
It appears likely that as the metaverse expands, a new set of working rules will appear. Zoom cocktails might give way to team games like virtual bowling parties and ping-pong competitions as the standard social event for distant workers.
While this is the case, VR may have specific advantages when it comes to hiring. It has been demonstrated that “blind” auditions considerably boost the proportion of female players in symphony orchestras. As a result, conducting interviews using an avatar may lessen the impact of bias against individuals based on their gender, age, or appearance, whether conscious or not.
The COVID-induced job market disruption has most severely impacted young people. Others were tricked into joining companies that did not really exist, while others battled to work effectively from shared housing or their parents’ homes.
However, the epidemic has also provided fascinating hints as to how remote working may develop. The latter is a permanent condition due to climate pressure and public health issues. It will continue to highlight skills that are concentrated among younger people as it matures into the metaverse.
Do we need Metaverse in Our work?
It became clear that video calls and chats will replace in-person interaction as more employees worked from dispersed locations (home offices, company satellite offices, hub and spoke offices), especially in light of restrictions and lockdowns. As much as this approach succeeded in closing the gap, it also became clear to many that the conditions of a video thumbnail online conversation were not the most conducive to sustained involvement and cooperation. The lack of dynamic face-to-face communication made it difficult for employees, who grappled with feelings of isolation and little in-person connection.
Meeting participants can engage as they would in a real-world environment in a virtual, metaverse office space that simulates a physical conference room. There is no need to trade meeting links for different platforms. Users can just “walk up” to their colleagues and start a conversation.
The avatars will even be able to accurately mimic people’s body language with additional advancements in VR or AR headsets. This immersive form of communication, as opposed to photos and video conversations, promises to increase engagement and productivity. This is especially helpful for onboarding, training, team gatherings, and even during client or partner meetings or product launches.
While businesses strive to design the most cutting-edge versions of their metaverse workplaces, it’s crucial to make sure that their physical sites also offer staff members a comfortable working environment. The real-world atmosphere and experience of your office space should not be overlooked because it may have a variety of positive effects on your business, including attracting the right staff, boosting productivity, and improving your brand image.
Which location will work best for your business? In the case of Google, a collaboration hub aids in boosting creativity and boosting employee engagement. Hub-and-Spoke offices let businesses better manage office space while attending to the demands of their staff. Companies like Spotify and Microsoft have embraced hybrid offices, which can enhance flexibility while cutting costs.
While a serviced office may be the best option for some people, a standard office may be a better financial decision. What important is that your office promotes the expansion of your company!
For the time being, the majority of businesses will treat the metaverse more as a notion than as anything else, but it is still important for them to stay on top of any technology that can provide them a competitive edge.
Alain Onesti concludes that the metaverse serves as the backdrop for the transformation in the way we work, which is moving forward quickly. Problems like “difficulty in comprehending the team situation,” “feeling alone and alienated while teleworking,” and “less casual chit-chatting” have also emerged as a result of the traditional style of work, where employees assemble in a physical office to complete tasks. In this setting, hybrid work, which merges the actual world and the virtual world, is growing in popularity.
Given the advancement of technology, the search of innovative working methods is likely to last for some time.