How the Metaverse could impact work
How the Metaverse could impact work.
Slow, then Fast.
Facebook transitions to Meta. Crypto markets are on fire. Mass online games are creating rock stars that fill stadiums (literally) and produce online viewership which would shame the Oscars. Over a million people, mostly in the Philippines, are making their primary income from yielding virtual assets on Axie Infinity.
The virtual world, or metaverse if you will, has started to encroach on everyday life with alarming speed. How will this play out for the Future of Work?
Work is not a game?
Most analysts of such things have long seen Virtual Reality (VR) as the realm of teenage game players, over-sized headsets and motion sickness - more a pastime than a true business vocation. It was Augmented Reality (AR) that business had always considered ripe for genuine commercialization. That is still true and AR offers incredible potential in the coming years as we align smartphones, non intrusive glasses and genuine use cases.
With the smartphone at its core, AR will likely remain a bifurcated ios vs Android ecosystem. A high end concierge service for those iphone users who can pay and a more wild west Android ecosystem where adoption will be higher, innovation faster and you, as the free user, the likely product. In summary, everyone gets what they want and what they pay for.
But what of VR in the Future of Work?
Pre-covid, the idea of all staff commuting into the office, getting their morning coffee, chatting with their colleagues and skimming emails before slipping on a chunky headset and disappearing into a virtual meeting, with active hand gestures, keyboard taps and high fives did seem a little far fetched. But now?
Most people are still working from home, or from a remote location, disconnected from the fibers of office life and this trend doesn't seem to be reversing at any great pace. Most white-collar office workers are approaching two years of remote work, have adapted, improved their setups and developed a new muscle memory around work. Recent graduates have never even been to an office! To them the idea of escaping into a VR office world seems somewhat desirable - a tidy way to segregate their work and home lives, without ever leaving the room.
Now, Oculus and its competitors are not quite there yet -nor, are they that far away either. The latest Oculus is a huge step forward in its immersion and fidelity and the usual complaints of nausea are fading. It's easy to imagine within the next 2-3 years, a 4 x improved version, at half the size, that really does slip on the head, and provide an escape into a truly immersive work experience. One where you can see and hear your colleagues tapping away at their computers, where 360-sound creates atmosphere and tension as someone scribbles on a virtual board and shares a presentation. Where people walk in and out, leaving the room naturally to move to their next meeting - all fluidly from their armchair.
Dystopian? Maybe, but maybe commuting and reducing time with family, pollution from too much air travel and 3 day trans pacific trips for a single meeting will be seen as relics of history before too long.
Too soon to tell but Facebook has the money, the intent (Meta) and the hardware (Oculus) to lead from the front, at least initially. Whether they can execute in the Enterprise space and regain trust as a partner remains to be seen. Microsoft is surely the other leader - with its dominance in Teams, and investments in both hardware and OEM relationships. It would certainly seem a more trusted partner to large Enterprise that could be shipping hundreds initially, then thousands of devices to a home near you soon.
We asked for the Future of Work!