The Metaverse is a term that has been thrown around a lot in the past year or so. Some think it is just virtual reality (VR), while others think it is going to change the internet as we know it. Facebook officially changed their company name to Meta, with the signal that they are going to focus on the Metaverse going forward, so it is clear that major companies are invested in the future of the Metaverse.
But what is the Metaverse? It originates from a science fiction novel called Snow Crash in which a virtual world allows people to buy and sell digital assets like property and goods – the Metaverse closely follows this idea from the book. In a way, we have already been heading in this direction in recent years with the creation of NFTs and other digital assets.
Metaverse users access a full digital world on their VR headsets. Users are promised they would be able to own property in the Metaverse, operate businesses, with the option for virtual retail shopping, and more. Skeptics say it does not differ very much from VR video games that already exist, with the exception that your purchases carry across the entire Metaverse, instead of being locked to one asset.
In the workplace, Metaverse might offer some possibilities that were not possible during the early era of the pandemic. For example, workers would be able to gather in virtual conference rooms or even offices to try to bring back that in-person feel without having to leave their home.
There is the possibility of replacing the virtual conference room with the Metaverse, allowing clients to meet with each other in a more immersive experience than Zoom or Microsoft Teams, for example. Would the Metaverse provide a more professional setting for your employees? It is too early to say.
On the other hand, the Metaverse may operate as a gimmick that gets used a few times before eventually wearing out its welcome. While a virtual office or conference room might sound fun at first, it may not be realistic to expect employees to sit with a VR headset on for an eight-hour workday.
The issue lies in owning the proprietary hardware to access the Metaverse, which requires individuals buying their own equipment, or a company providing each employee with the technology. Currently, the only technology needed to access a virtual conference room is the computer that an employee already has. To operate in the Metaverse, there will have to be some investment in additional hardware either from the company or from employees.
Currently, the Metaverse is still in its infancy, so it is hard to say exactly what direction the implementation of the technology will take. What do you think? Will your coworkers be interested in wearing VR headsets throughout the workday, or are current remote options working well enough?