The world of work is possibly where the metaverse will have the greatest impact to all of use. Building on trends of remote work stemming from the pandemic, providing the in-person contact and the spontaneity it affords with the freedom to work from wherever, whenever could be truly revolutionising for companies and employees. Bill Gates predicts change is coming faster than you might think.
“Within the next two or three years,” Gates writes on his blog, “I predict most virtual meetings will move from 2D camera image grids […] to the metaverse, a 3D space with digital avatars.”
This will require VR goggles and motion capture gloves, all tools we can expect companies like Microsoft to roll out and ourselves to own in the future.
This is another major area of our lives that will feel the impact (hopefully beneficial ones) of the metaverse. The pandemic forced the closure of physical schools in many parts of the world, but unlike the office, students are not expected to adopt full-time virtual school in the future. However, according to Gates, the pandemic did speed up the development of online curricula for many learning institutions and, because virtual learning requires access to quality technology outside of school, has served to narrow the tech gap in people’s homes. These are trends that should continue, and we can expect the metaverse to improve the ways we learn.
Online shopping has grown exponentially during the pandemic, and studies show that younger and older generations alike are increasingly shopping online and preferring the experience. The metaverse can help rid online shopping of its negative points, including high returns of ill-fitting clothing or misrepresented products, because it will be possible to do things such as try on virtual outfits and try out virtual appliances, for example. In the metaverse, “shoppers” will have the experience of holding objects and assessing them from all angles before purchasing.
The advantages to working in the metaverse
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.
Accenture works as a great example of a current metaverse, according to Microsoft’s Satdya Nadella. In her interview with the publication, she describes Accenture’s long-time metaverse, Altspace.
“Accenture is a great example of it,” Nadella . “Accenture is basically building what they describe as the Nth floor in Altspace where literally anybody across Accenture globally can any time drop in on the Nth floor and meet other Accenture employees.”
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 hardware. Working in the metaverse will require only digital whiteboards and digital workstations, and 3D avatars are free and able to meet “face to face” without the need of conferencing equipment.
Technology has advanced faster than most realize, and it’s going to play a big role in the metaverse. For example, the use of augmented and artificial intelligence in meeting rooms. When you join the meeting, for example, you’d be able to see all the profiles involved, 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 Satdya Nadella said. “That way then the remote participant can find people who are even sitting in a conference room, identify them, get their profile, and what have you. So that’s a great example of what is physical has become digitized. And you have people still meeting in a physical space and people who are remote but it’s all bridged.”
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,” Nadella told Harvard Business Review.