Since late 2021, the world has been abuzz about the Metaverse, the virtual reality realm for work, play, and everything in between proposed by the company formerly known as Facebook and currently known as Meta.
Given the massive implications of this kind of technology, experts and laymen alike have been quick to discuss what the future might look like in the Metaverse.
Even better, some companies have already had the chance to test out Meta's virtual reality workspace. We talked with some employees from The Bot Platform, one of the first external companies to be offered a chance to test out their new virtual reality work collaboration platform, Horizon Workrooms. Here's what they had to say:
The Good Aspects of Working in the Metaverse
Everyone can agree that remote work is here to stay, whether or not the pandemic sticks around for the foreseeable future. Given that shift, the ability to connect with your team in a more meaningful way could make the Metaverse that much more attractive to companies with employees all over the world.
“With myself being in the US and the rest of the team in the UK, it was a great way of feeling like we were all together even though we were thousands of miles apart,” said Tom Gibby, Co-founder & CMO of The Bot Platform.
Video chat made the growing pains of the pandemic that much easier to manage, but the technology certainly has limitations. In the Metaverse, though, those limitations dissolve almost immediately.
“Having the ability for multiple conversations to be held in the same meeting at the same time was a real game changer. It felt closer to a reflection of an in-person meeting compared to video calls,” said Eddy Williams, Employee Experience Consultant for The Bot Platform.
Let's be honest, conference rooms aren't exactly the most glamorous of meeting places. In the Metaverse, however, your team will not only be able to meet with anyone, but they'll be able to meet anywhere as well.
“The surroundings themselves were quite cool too — I don't think we've ever had a company meeting in a sun-soaked conference room surrounded by green valleys. Made for a nice change to the usual British grey,” said Melita Gandham, Creative Solutions Architect for The Bot Platform.
Suffice it to say, there are plenty of advantages that the Metaverse could provide to businesses looking to spice up the remote work meeting situation. Still, it's not all unicorns and rainbows when it comes to next technology in the workplace.
The Bad Points About Virtual Metaverse Meetings
After more than two years of video calls, any improvement can seem like a boon for your company. Still, even in virtual reality, there are some in-person quirks you just won't get a feel for right away.
“Seeing people gesticulate was good fun. Although, micro-expressions were hard to come by — you just have to assume everyone was having a good time!” said Gandham.
The absence of micro-expressions is hardly a dealbreaker. However, the Metaverse does require some pretty serious hardware to access as of today, which can make a day full of meetings feel like a multi-hour workout.
“Whilst the headsets are now fairly lightweight and comfortable, you wouldn't want to wear it all day. On one of those days where you're in back-to-back meetings all day, spending it all in VR could be pretty overwhelming,” said Williams.
Studies have shown that being in virtual reality spaces for too long can have a negative impact on your health, from loss of spatial awareness to motion sickness. Still, being in any meeting that long isn't good for your health either, so hopefully businesses aren't subjecting their employees to that kind of time commitment in or out of the Metaverse.
“For a meeting that lasts 90 minutes or less, the technology is great. I'm not sure you'd want to be in VR for much more than that at a time, although the same probably applies to any other meeting – who wants to be in any meeting for 3 hours without a break?” said Gibby.
Is Metaverse the Future?
With the Metaverse on the horizon, meetings could look considerably different than they do today. So, will the Metaverse be the future of work?
“I have no doubt that this will become an integral part of business communications at some point in the not-too-distant future,” said Williams.
While many are sure that the advent of this new technology will completely transform the way we work, others are convinced that no technology can fully and completely replace in-person interactions, no matter how hard Mark Zuckerberg wants it to. Still, the Metaverse is poised to be a seriously helpful tool for businesses looking to keep company culture alive on remote teams.
“I don't think it will fully replace our current comms set ups or environments, but I think it is a very helpful tool to implement in order to help remote teams feel more united,” said Gandham.
Although virtual reality and the Metaverse are in the early stages of its advanced development, it's safe to say the technology has the potential to seriously transform the future of work. And even with its many haters, the future is coming, whether you like it or not.
“In the same way there were plenty of nay-sayers proved wrong by the power of the internet and mobile — I'm sure the same will be said for VR in a few years' time too,” said Gibby.