How Remote Working Will Change With The Metaverse
Curious about how remote working will change with the metaverse?
Despite the “return to office” push post-pandemic, employees aren’t ready to give up the flexibility, autonomy, and productivity remote work offers.
However, working remotely does present some unique challenges. Fully-distributed teams report more difficulty with team cohesion, remote communication, and productive collaboration.
Though in-office employees struggle with these issues less, they also admit to being more distracted and less productive than their remote counterparts.
That’s why the metaverse presents such an intriguing workplace option. It combines the best of both in-office and remote work worlds.
Like advances in remote work technology opened the door for WFH to be the norm, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are paving the way for mainstream adoption of the metaverse.
According to a PwC study, VR will be used in 23 million jobs worldwide in less than 10 years [*].
A recent survey even revealed that 44% of professionals want to work in the metaverse because they believe it will improve their workplace performance [*].
So before we get to all the reasons that prediction may be right, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page first.
What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a network of connected 3D virtual worlds where people can work together, hang out, go shopping with cryptocurrency, etc., using a personal digital avatar.
Some experts have dubbed it “the next internet.” Mark Zuckerberg changed his entire Facebook empire to “Meta” because he believes the metaverse is our collective digital future.
So where did the metaverse come from?
The term “metaverse” was first used in the 1992 book Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, in which the protagonist scrapes by in a future dystopian Los Angeles while being a hero in the virtual world called the Metaverse [*].
When it comes to the technical aspects of the metaverse, you can thank years of advancements in gameplay, video, VR, AR, and even social media for lending elements to this vast network of virtual realities.
Though locations in the metaverse are usually rendered in VR or AR, you can access them from a computer or smart device. Using a VR headset is the only way to score the complete 3D immersive experience.
VR-enabled headsets are becoming so much more accessible that organizations are adding them to their employees’ list of covered office equipment. And that brings us to:
What is a Virtual Reality Office in the Metaverse Like?
Software that creates a virtual reality office allows employee avatars to meet and work together in a shared, simulated environment.
You’ll find virtual desk spaces, walk by avatars engaging in conversation by the virtual water cooler, and attend meetings in a virtual conference room, for example.
The two biggest players in the metaverse workspace so far are:
Microsoft Mesh. Microsoft’s mixed reality ecosystem uses a HoloLens2 or Mesh-enabled app to “enable presence and shared experiences from anywhere.” It’s being integrated into the suite of collaboration tools used by Microsoft Teams [*].
Meta’s Horizon Workrooms. Horizon Workrooms (beta) is the VR space for teams to “connect, collaborate, and develop ideas, together” using the Oculus Quest 2. You can brainstorm on a virtual whiteboard, build your own virtual desk and office, use expressive avatars, and more.
Image Source: Workrooms
Like the transition from the office to remote work, experts predict the next great shift in the workplace will be the migration to the metaverse. So what does that mean for organizations and remote employees?
How Remote Working Will Change with the Metaverse
Here’s what we think working remotely in the metaverse will bring:
Productive Virtual Coworking Spaces that Boost Team Cohesion and Minimize WFH Isolation
Achieving the psychological state of “co-presence,” or the feeling of “being there together” with your coworkers is arguably the biggest benefit of working remotely in the metaverse [*].
Organizations can create virtual workplaces that mimic their real-life HQs for their hybrid and remote employees. Or they may design fantastical spaces that inspire creative brainstorming sessions.
Image Source: Microsoft Mesh
Employees (i.e., their avatars) can join these virtual spaces together from home. They can stay connected through shared experiences here, work on assignments as a team in real-time, and focus on achieving the same goal.
Unlike video calls, this total immersion in a shared virtual environment helps employees become fully present in their work and with their colleagues.
Teams that feel connected like this are more engaged in the workplace and motivated to succeed. They also tend to have a greater sense of where they belong in an organization and how their contributions matter to the team’s overall success.
A Healthier Remote Work-Life Balance
With the lines between work and home life being so blurred, researchers say remote workers have difficulty disconnecting and “turning off” at the end of the day [*].
But saying goodbye to your coworkers in the metaverse and physically taking off your VR headset may mark a clear line between work and home life. It gives off the same vibes as walking out of an office building and eagerly heading into your night or weekend to relax.
There’s also the potential for organizations to create virtual employee wellness spaces in the metaverse.
Teams may decide to hold meditations in a virtual zen garden or yoga breaks in a serene lakeside pavilion. Employees may be able to take their lunch breaks together in a forest complete with calming nature sounds.
These are just a few ways companies can support mental health in the workplace to boost morale and keep away the signs of burnout.
Improved Remote Communication and Spontaneous Collaboration
Google claims that informal chats between coworkers at lunch tables or by the coffee machines lead to innovations like Gmail and Street View [*]. But these organic, serendipitous meetups are much more challenging to replicate with remote teams.
So in the metaverse, remote employees have the chance to “bump” into coworker avatars around a virtual water cooler. They might chat with someone “sitting” next to them in a shared workspace. Or they could pop in and out of their coworkers’ virtual offices for a quick question.
Many remote workers miss these natural social interactions when working solo from home.
Unlike messaging apps like Slack, you don’t have to be glued to your phone 24/7 to get in on group discussions in the metaverse. And you don’t have to live with Zoom fatigue to collaborate productively.
Stanford University researchers said the intense eye contact, self-consciousness about one’s video feed, and the mental demands of exaggerating feedback cues over video calls actually decrease their effectiveness [*].
So the metaverse might make giving presentations and holding brainstorming sessions much more productive.
The Rise of Digital Humans: Outsourcing Tedious Tasks To an AI-Powered Assistant
One of the most interesting features of the metaverse is the chance to pick up a highly realistic, AI-powered “digital human.” These sophisticated bots live in the metaverse and happily assist human workers with tedious, repetitive, dull tasks.
Digital humans can automate work duties and do the heavy lifting to free up an employee’s brainpower for higher-level thinking and value-driven tasks. AI can also gather and objectively interpret complicated data sets to speed up decision-making.
Gamification Will Make Training, Upskilling, Onboarding, etc. Way More Engaging
A recent Deloitte study revealed that the majority of Generation Z (87%), millennials (83%), and Generation X (79%) play video games at least weekly [*].
The metaverse presents a unique opportunity to appeal to these workers by “gamifying” learning and training. Research proves the virtual world provides [*]:
- A greater scope for visually demonstrating concepts and work practices
- A better opportunity to learn by doing
- Higher engagement and improved problem-solving through “quest-based” methods
Plus, many people, especially those with autism, respond better to visual cues rather than verbal ones [*][*].
Interactive, 3D displays with step-by-step instructions allow more on-the-job employee training and upskilling. And AI-enabled digital coaches will be there to offer hands-on assistance, encouragement, and gentle nudges when employees get stuck.
Workers can also put themselves into virtual real-world scenarios, like a simulated cybersecurity breach or client meeting, and practice different solutions. They can repeat the training session to test out other ideas or ways of working and see how the outcomes differ risk-free.
Virtual onboarding processes can also benefit. Instead of having new hires read a 30-page document about your company, they can explore a personalized, interactive 3D experience that gamifies learning about your organization, so it’s much more fun and exciting.
Unlimited Opportunities for Virtual Team Retreats, Remote Team-Building, and Social Bonding
Remote companies organize team retreats to give their telecommuting employees face time with each other. These typically occur in exotic locales (and don’t come cheap).
So the metaverse gives distributed teams the chance to meet up more often and stay on budget.
Company retreats can take place on the Moon, in the Shire, or on a virtual beach. They can design specific spaces for focusing on career development, engaging in team-building activities, or networking.
Organizations can also add more time for face-to-face avatar interactions during the workday. The metaverse includes recreational areas to watch concerts together, play games and hold virtual tournaments, and be more social when working remotely.
It’s the modern-day equivalent of a gathering around the ping-pong table in workplaces of old.
Metaverse-Specific Enterprises and Jobs
Before the internet, companies like Amazon and jobs like a digital marketer, social media manager, and cybersecurity guru weren’t a thing. Similarly, the rise of the metaverse will create enterprises and roles that exist solely in the virtual world.
Many top remote companies are expanding their workforce with new positions, like director of metaverse engineering, avatar creator, virtual architect, and more [*].
You can be sure that We Work Remotely will remain the #1 remote job board to find and list these incredible opportunities now and in the very near future.
Jazzed About Working Remotely In the Metaverse? Us Too! 🙌
The metaverse removes the disconnectedness of remote work without sacrificing any of the flexibility, autonomy, or productivity employees love about it. It may be the best way to bridge the differences between working from home and the office.
These seven ways remote work will change with the metaverse all present exciting possibilities organizations and remote workers should look forward to.
Working remotely in the metaverse starts by landing your dream remote role.Check out the WWR job board now to find your next career move!
Want to add more remote employees to your team? Post your job on We Work Remotely and reach the largest remote community in the world!
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