Remote working became the norm for businesses and employees over the past few years. Even now, post-lockdowns, the hybrid working model continues to be the preference for many businesses, with some offices only open two or three times a week.
It’s recently been estimated that 73% of teams will have remote workers by 2028, but if mass hybrid working is going to become the norm, we must embrace the technology needed to facilitate it.
In its current state, the hybrid model is far from ideal. According to the latest State of Remote Work report, remote workers cited a number of barriers – including poor communication and collaboration, loneliness, and difficulty staying motivated and focused – which are proving detrimental to their performance.
It is clear that employees now expect, and need, a more sophisticated and stimulating environment to maximise productivity and rejuvenate the sense of connection with their colleagues. The solution to meeting these varying needs of the modern-day worker lies in an emerging and potentially revolutionary convergence of technologies: the metaverse.
Embracing the metaverse will restore a sense of connection
By further implementing communication platforms, such as video conferencing tools, into the work environment, businesses and their employees were able to maintain some level of productivity throughout the pandemic.
However, they are without their limitations and the majority of business leaders recognise this, with 65% stating they believe the metaverse will be more transformational than any video conferencing technology.
Gymshark, for example, has started to trial the metaverse to hold team meetings, with the chief brand officer of the gym wear company, Noel Mack, saying that he believes the metaverse is “a step ahead of Zoom”.
This is because the metaverse offers a completely immersive environment that eradicates the judders and pauses typical of the conventional video call by facilitating more organic conversations in which ideas can be more freely and effectively shared, conveyed, digested and responded to. In other words, it more effectively recreates the sense of presence and intimacy experienced in the physical office in the virtual realm.
This is being reflected in the technologies major enterprises are harnessing and developing on an increasing scale. The release of Accenture’s Nth Floor (an immersive virtual workspace) a few years back was a clear signal that the professional services industry is starting to recognise how the metaverse can help them advance and strengthen internal communications.
Their recent investment in Forma Vision to introduce real-time volumetric and holographic elements to the virtual meeting space foretells an era in which the sensory experience of communicating in physical and digital worlds merge with little disparity.
With all these features helping the metaverse to feel more realistic, we’re even seeing countries adapt to this new world. Colombia, for example, has started to use the metaverse to hold court hearings, introducing a generation of lawyers, barristers and judges to a whole new way of working.
It is easy to see how the ability to host legal procedures in virtual environments, along with the ability to leverage blockchain technology across standard practices, could totally transform the way an industry operates within a particular country. This could then soon spread across borders and before long, the metaverse becomes fully integrated into the functionality of a global service on which we all rely.
Increased productivity and innovation
For the world of work, this spells evolution: an era in which typical geographical and physical limitations cease to exist – not just in terms of removing the divide between remote workers, but also in offering more fluid and adaptable spaces for them to collaborate in.
The finite office, or bedroom, is supplanted by a boundless realm where whiteboard space, seating arrangements and physical resources are rendered insignificant. Presentations and brainstorming sessions suddenly become immersive 3D experiences in which design work, planning and strategizing can be conducted in a customisable virtual space that is attuned to the task or project at hand.
Siemens has partnered with Nvidia, for example, to create an industrial metaverse which will bring industrial automation to a whole new level. In this industrial metaverse, organisations will be able to collaborate on designs no matter where they are in the world, make decisions more effectively, and ultimately bring products to the market faster.
For industrial businesses, operating in the metaverse delivers productivity and process improvements across the production lifecycle.
With the immersive collaboration market estimated to exceed $22bn by 2030, all the signs point towards a renaissance-like transition in the way businesses develop and evolve products, services and content in the workplace.
A new future
While the metaverse is by no means a substitute for physical interaction and communication in the workplace, it can provide a strong foundation for a hybrid framework that will be a considerable improvement on the tools currently available.
The mass integration of an immersive virtual environment by employers will not only restore a sense of connection and workplace community amongst staff, but also re-empower them with the ability to ideate, collaborate and design with greater cohesion and conviction.