How the Metaverse is Shaping the Future of Work

Modis Posted 07 April 2022

The metaverse, and all its potential, is sure to dovetail with everything we do in life because that is at the root of its purpose: to co-exist with our actual reality, to exist in tandem with our flesh and blood selves in our brick-and-mortar worlds.

This creates exciting opportunities for breaking down the walls of time zones and geographic locations when it comes to work.

On a very practical level, the metaverse can transform how we work, where, with whom, and in what capacity. Immersive workspaces will make it possible to create mutual spaces where we can gather from wherever we happen to be. It will change the game in terms of broadening the range of potential candidates for jobs or projects, while closing the interpersonal and practical gaps created by working remotely. Here are some key ways the metaverse can change for the better the ways in which we work:

Diminishing the negatives of remote work

Until now, technology has served mainly to keep communication and interaction at work functioning despite physical distance rather than actually replicating the experience of being present with team members in person. Virtual work currently comes at the cost of easy reading of body language, the spontaneous sharing of ideas as you pass a colleague in the hall. All of this brings challenges to managers who feel disconnected from where the work is happening and can lead to disengagement. In the metaverse, we can join our team members in virtual workspaces as 3D avatars, in a way that far more closely feels like the real world.

Visualise and solve problems in 3D 

Many of us tackle problems visually. In fields such as healthcare, architecture, construction—to name but a few—being able to engage with ideas and problem solve visually, using 3D models, is a smarter way to work. In the metaverse, anything can be 3D-modeled, allow more precise assessment, design, and decision making with fewer time constraints and financial costs.

Imagine it like this: you’re working on a construction team, and a virtual electrician can join from his home (no matter where that may be) to help fix a wiring issue virtually.

No dependence on hardware and no restrictions of space

Space is not an issue in the metaverse. Virtual workspaces can be expanded easily. And there’s less need for traditional collaborative tools. Working in the metaverse will require only digital whiteboards and digital workstations, “Meetings and workshops will bring on an additional dimension. Interact, whiteboard, design and engage with the environment as you would in a real workshop” said Modis Australia’s National Practice Lead for the Internet of Things and Digital Twins, Joshua J Morley.

Technology has advanced faster than most realise, and it’s going to play a big role in the metaverse. For example, the use of augmented and artificial intelligence in meeting rooms. Minutes and note taking can be conducted by a virtual assistant and when you join the meeting, for example, you’d be able to see all the participants profiles, your past interactions with them, and information about everyone joining the call.

“We have now, when you go to a Team’s room, it will even segment everybody in a conference room into their own square, put them back in a meeting as if they were joining remotely,” Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer Satdya Nadella told Harvard Business Review.

While the pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of parts of the hiring process such as application, interview, onboarding and induction, the metaverse will further enhance the experience. “Inductions can be held remotely with meta reconstructions of induction environments, or even a full Digital Twin, creating an exact real-time simulation or replica environment of the site people will be inducted to,” suggested Morley.

And this virtual experience can be applied to other aspects of life. Morley adds “individuals and businesses will be able to provide virtual tours, see their office space kitted out with cabinetry before purchasing, walk through the house they’re designing before it’s built, and even receive virtual museum tours hosted by historical figures recreated with AI in 3D by technologies such as the Generative Adversarial Network (GAN)”.

In addition, real-time translation will play a big role in the metaverse; it’ll allow people to connect like never before. “So, for example, a meetings artifact I talked about, just imagine, if there was a meeting in France, it was in French, where people were talking,” said Nadella.

Considerations for businesses

The cost to get established varies and adoption of hardware takes time. Below, Morley lists some considerations for businesses, such as:

  • Hardware
    • VR/MR headsets and necessary controllers and peripherals
    • VR ready PCs (as the standard minimum spec laptops that many companies roll out will not be able to cope with the increased compute resources required to run virtual or mixed reality)
  • Software and licenses
    • There will likely be an increase in cost for software and other licenses that facilitate metaverse usage (as development companies will need to recoup the significant increase in cost required to build a 3D environment vs 2D interfaces)
  • People
    • The costs of training and upskilling to be able to use this new and vastly different technology
  • Security
    • More advanced technology means more attack vectors and more advanced phishing (Avatar spoofing and “man-in-the-room” attacks)

The metaverse and digital transformations

As Bill Gates writes on his blog, “the acceleration of innovation is just starting.” He writes of our needing, for example, “motion capture gloves to accurately capture your expressions, body language, and the quality of your voice,” to function in the metaverse, which is beyond what many of us currently have in our home offices.

But perhaps the future of the metaverse may not need a VR helmet of any kind. Nadella mentions the advantages of digitising the space so you don’t need to wear anything to enter the metaverse.

“I think that this entire idea of metaverse is fundamentally this: increasingly, as we embed computing in the real world, you can even embed the real world in computing. That’s kind of how I think about it. Both because in some sense, one of the metaphors that I always use which is helpful is that as both an outside-in and inside-out,” Nadella said. “For example, you can have a space in which there are lots of cameras and microphones. And you can digitise the space. You don’t need to wear anything on your head.”

The metaverse will require us to adapt to new ways of working and interacting, which we have shown to be adept at doing. Advancements in technology are difficult to opt-out of without falling behind, and resistance to the metaverse may leave us locked out of a thriving, rich, virtual world.

“Imagine a business that did not adopt the mobile phone and stayed with the landline. We see businesses struggling to grow and connect when they don’t have a web presence, and the metaverse will be no different. Whilst missing out does not completely cripple a business, they will be missing out on the value that their competitors will benefit from,” said Morley.

If it delivers what’s promised, we will be able to have both a real-world more on our own terms as far as location and work/life balance, and an interactive, dynamic world of work in which we collaborate and create in virtual spaces with more true-to-life connections than we’ve experienced through technology before.

Learn more about the metaverse here.

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