If you follow the world of tech, over the last few years, chances are you’ve heard the term “metaverse” being used with increasing frequency—including in relation to the future of work.
But while the metaverse—and the potential it has to impact how and where we work—has the tech world buzzing, most people have a lot of questions about the technology and its potential impact.
So what, exactly, is the metaverse? How will it impact the future of work—and when? And will there come a time in the future (and perhaps the not-to-distant future) when all of us—whether we’re in the tech space or not—will forgo working in the real world for working in the metaverse?
1. What is the metaverse?
First things first. Before we jump into how the metaverse will impact the future of work, let’s quickly touch on what the metaverse is.
Generally speaking, the metaverse refers to virtual worlds—more specifically, virtual worlds built in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). In the metaverse, people can explore and interact with virtual and/or augmented spaces using an avatar—as well as share those spaces with other users’ avatars in real time. The metaverse will also have its own digital economy, where users can buy, create, and sell items using digital currencies (like Bitcoin) backed by technology like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) which act as a digital certificate of ownership.
Now, if you’re thinking “but these kinds of virtual worlds already exist,” you’re not wrong. There are already robust virtual worlds with thriving digital economies, particularly in the gaming space. (Think World of Warcraft or Fortnite.)
The difference between these virtual worlds and the metaverse comes down to scope and scale. If the metaverse takes off the way many tech companies project (and hope!) it will, the metaverse won’t just be a video game platform; it will act as a virtual alternative for our current physical society (Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, is working on their own virtual world—but despite what their company name suggests, they’re not the only tech company working on creating a metaverse.) So, people will be able to engage with virtual worlds like World of Warcraft and Fortnite in the metaverse—but they’ll also be able to go grocery shopping, visit the doctor, and socialize with their friends.
And, if you believe some of the predictions floating around, many people will also be able to go to work in the metaverse.
2. How will the metaverse impact the future of work?
Now that you understand what the metaverse is, let’s jump into how the metaverse will impact the future of work.
As mentioned, the metaverse will be an all-encompassing virtual world. And just like companies have offices in the real world, many may also opt to have offices in the metaverse.
Opting to conduct work in the metaverse can offer organizations a variety of benefits, including:
- Creates connection with remote teams. The metaverse aims to mirror the real world—including the way people interact. Having a virtual office will allow remote workers to interact with each other in the metaverse via their avatars, digital representations that users can customize their tastes, preferences, and personality. (For example, one person may opt to create an avatar that closely resembles their physical form—while others might opt to get creative with their avatars, making them look like an animal, alien, or other non-human character.) This interaction recreates the experience of sharing physical space—and feels more personal and connected than other remote work platforms.
- Less expensive than owning physical real estate. Having a physical office has a lot of overhead, like rent and utilities. While there will definitely be costs associated with buying office space in the metaverse, those costs will likely be significantly less than buying or renting office space in the real world. This can help companies save budget—and that repurpose those savings towards other business initiatives that drive profit.
- Opportunity to create and sell in the metaverse. As mentioned, the metaverse will have its own digital economy—and organizations that have a presence in the metaverse will have the opportunity to get in on that economy, creating and selling digital items to drive profit.
- Attracts top tech talent. Many consider the metaverse to be the next big thing in the technology space. And if you want to attract top tech talent—and get the competitive edge that comes along with having top talent work at your company? Being a part of “the next big thing” is a great way to do it.
There are, however, also considerations companies will have to keep in mind before deciding to make the shift to working in the metaverse. For example, working in the metaverse will require more equipment (like a VR headset or AR glasses) than a basic remote work setup, which can create added costs. Plus, the metaverse may not be a fit for all of your employees; for example, some employees may not want to work in a virtual office while others may lack the tech acumen to successfully navigate the metaverse.
3. Will all future work happen in the metaverse?
Does the metaverse have the potential to impact the future of work? Absolutely. But will all future work happen in the metaverse? It’s highly unlikely.
There’s a number of reasons why the totality of work is unlikely to move to the metaverse, including:
- Lack of interest. As mentioned, not everyone will have an interest in working in the metaverse—and in the early stages of the metaverse, that number is likely to be high. Unless companies plan on firing all of those employees (also unlikely), they’ll have to keep at least some of their work operations out of the metaverse.
- Inability to perform job duties in the metaverse. While many jobs can be conducted virtually, there are also jobs that can only take place in the real world (for example, chefs or child care workers)—and as such, those jobs will stay in the real world.
- Speed of adoption. As of now, the metaverse is little more than a concept. The technology has a long way to go before it’s ready to become a more ingrained part of the culture of work (while Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts the metaverse will be mainstream in five to 10 years, a widespread adoption could take significantly longer than that)—and even when it’s ready, it’s going to take some time for users and companies alike to adopt and embrace the technology as the “new normal of work.”
Instead, the future of work will mostly happen on collaborative tools that allow team members to communicate and collaborate no matter where they are—tools like Talkspirit.
With Talkspirit, teams have the features and functionality they need to work effectively and collaboratively, no matter where they are—including a chat platform, video conferencing, project management platform, and a secure drive to better store, organize, manage, and share knowledge across the organization.
4. Prepare yourself for the future of work—and the future of work in the metaverse
Bottom line? Work is changing. And if you want to stay competitive, you need to be ready and prepared for those changes—and that includes understanding how the metaverse may impact both the future of work and the future of work within your organization.
Are you looking to know more about Future of Work? Read our white paper to find out:
By Deanna de Bara