Is the Metaverse the Future of Remote Work?
February 14, 2022
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by Stephen Kanyi

Recent news about Meta’s falling stock prices have had many, including myself, doubt the promise of metaverse technology. Zuckerberg’s vision of a virtual world, as I pointed out in a previous post, is at least five years off and the current crisis at Meta is but a consequence of overpromising or rather overblown expectations.

That said, I do believe the metaverse to be quite a promising technology. In fact, I sincerely think the metaverse is going to be the next evolution of the internet. Much like the early years of the internet, the metaverse is going to be much more than just virtual games as some have been quick to criticize, it is going to change almost every facet of our lives; how we communicate, how we interact with each other and more relevantly how we work.

As a remote worker, I have been specifically interested in the effects the metaverse is going to have on remote work. With a newfound ability to design virtual workspaces and communicate with colleagues and customers in more interactive ways, the metaverse is definitely a significant upgrade on the current (rather crude) models that current remote workers operate in.

Here are a few ways the metaverse is going to affect remote work;

Bye Bye Zoom Calls

Nobody enjoys Zoom calls or exchanging emails. It’s just too boring and takes way more time than we would like them to. Much as we tout video calls as a revolutionary technology, it is far from being a substitute for face-to-face interaction. Video calls just do not provide the level of intimacy that face-to-face interaction does. Human communication is tricky like that, it involves more than just the exchange of words and glances, there are many more subtle, under the radar processes that go into communicating with someone else. From random glances to overt hand and body gestures and also subtle eye glances. It is said that 90% of human communication is non-verbal. This is something that video calls do not relay.

The metaverse could change this. Imagine a virtual room where you will be able to meet colleagues, partners and potential customers in their avatars which with the current rate of development will be pretty close to their real selves.

Moreover, not only will you meet and talk, but you will also be able to collaborate in designing buildings, furniture, gadgets, toys and all sorts of stuff using 3D tools. Popular computer manufacturer HP Inc is, for instance, already using virtual cars in virtual tracks to test how real cars would handle crashes before they are manufactured.

The more you bring in next-generation collaboration tools, you will significantly accelerate product-development cycles,” says the chief technology officer of HP Inc Dr Tolga Kurtoglu.

Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab also postulates that virtual labs “could give people whose jobs require handling dangerous or expensive equipment a way to safely practise or experiment with new methods.”

Creating New Unheard of Jobs

Much like the internet and social media, the metaverse is likely to create jobs that no one would have ever thought of before. This new universe will require designers to build them and also people to fill them. These include salespeople for virtual shops, artists for virtual entertainment venues and teachers and virtual classrooms.

All these people will be able to log into their virtual workplaces from the comfort of their homes. So, while now remote workers use their pcs as their primary tool for the workplace the future remote worker may use their VR headsets to log into their virtual office.

Moreover, other jobs are also forecasted to change. Real estate agents, for example, may create virtual properties for sale and tour to give virtual previews of real-world vacations. And down the line, even purely virtual homes and vacations could also be sold.

With the rise of metaverse along with robotics, we are set to see more roles change to remote. Workers could control robots from home while using their VR headsets to carry out tasks that are too physically demanding or dangerous.

Hiring and Training Diversity

With more and more people entering the remote workforce, employers will have more options to choose from.

Talent won’t be acquired depending on location,” says Richard Kerris, an executive at Nvidia Corp. who is co-leading a metaverse-infrastructure project called Omniverse.

Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of modern work at Microsoft predicts that part of future job interviews will take place in the metaverse. This means those job seekers will need to acquire appropriate avatar attire.

How you represent yourself in the virtual world will be just as important as how you represent yourself in the real world,” he says.

Hiring and training will become more virtual in the future. Manufacturing plants for instance could train their employees to operate complex machinery in virtual factories and warehouses before letting their employees handle the real thing.

Accenture PLC is already innovating in this space creating virtual-reality environments for training courses.

We are set to see many more companies innovate in this space and help build the much-awaited metaverse. Let’s just hope this happens sooner rather than later.

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