digital twins

An office in the Metaverse

Can you imagine going to work in a virtual world?

Work is changing. Offices are changing. Across generations, more people are taking greater charge of their work environment and embracing the new wave of hybrid working. According to the Cisco Global Hybrid Work Study 2022, 62% of employees agree that their ability to work from anywhere impacts whether they stay at or leave a job.

But, what if “working from anywhere” meant working from a digital environment?

If cafes, coworking spaces, living rooms, or even rooftops can be our offices, it’s no surprise that companies are already exploring the possibility of workspaces in the Metaverse. It’s going to the office while working from home, except employees get a much more immersive experience than the typical 2D video meeting.

The possibility is a topic of great debate and we need to look at both the benefits and challenges of having the Metaverse as our new office space.Twinbru_Image_Thumbnails Article 2_Dec2022_Image02

Companies are thinking about the future

Young people have a bit of a competitive edge with a mindset and skills that include an intuitive grasp of technology. They are also key drivers of the change in work environments, looking for more comfort to increase productivity and working in newer job roles that don’t necessitate being in an office all the time. These changes have had benefits for more seasoned employees who see the well-being benefits of changing the way our work days and workspaces are structured.

Because there’s been so much evolution and most companies are finding parts or the whole of their operation requiring varying degrees of digital transformation, it makes sense to relook at workspace requirements. There are many more companies who now allow for hybrid working models or are letting go of offices altogether if they find it’s not necessary. It’s also opened up thinking about going one step further and considering completely virtual work environments.Twinbru_Image_Thumbnails Article 2_Dec2022_Image03

Pop on a headset and go to work

The CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, believes we’re about five years away from working in the Metaverse. Employees are showing greater interest in the possibility because of the many benefits it can provide. They include:

  • More flexibility in working from home - Having work and home in the same space has created some difficulty in separating work time from home time. Finding that balance is challenging but there’s also a great degree of comfort in being in a space that is familiar. What an office in the Metaverse can provide is some separation without leaving home. Employees can go to work, see their colleagues, engage in meetings and even create their own workstations but it’s all virtual. Having it as an immersive 3D experience will provide the sensory and mental shift of being in the work environment but without the commute or dress code.
  • Easier colleague collaboration - Being able to talk face-to-face always makes collaboration easier. But, when colleagues are separated by great distance or find a typical video or phone call challenging, being in the Metaverse with a VR headset replicates that personal experience. It also means coworkers can share documents and visuals while working on them in real-time to deliver the best results in an efficient manner.
  • Revolutionary training and development - Onboarding and training of employees take on a new dimension in the Metaverse. Digital coaching, gamification of training content, and expanded visual material can boost skills acquisition.
  • New digital colleagues - An unexpected benefit of working in the Metaverse is that AI-powered bots can form part of teams. They aren’t intended to replace existing employees, instead, they would help free up time for human employees. Bots can take on mundane, time-consuming tasks to give the human staff greater focus on the tasks that require their skills and expertise. They can also function as assistants, taking on things like answering messages or redirecting communication to appropriate channels. For training, AI coaches can guide employees through training or onboarding programmes as a complement to the HR employees who will maintain oversight.

Not all metaverse moonshine and roses

While the concept of having an office in the metaverse is incredibly exciting, there are some challenges that come with the notion. Just like all physical corporate offices are imperfect, the new territory of virtual workplaces naturally raises concerns.

  • The cost of technology to implement a virtual office in the Metaverse, including VR headsets and technology infrastructure, is quite steep and can’t be downplayed.
  • There are privacy issues related to operating in a virtual environment, and legal precedent and guidelines have to be created as it comes into being.
  • Companies will have to set rules and guidelines regarding performance tracking and employee surveillance that could be in contradiction with the company culture or employees’ expectations.
  • There is a risk of unacceptable behaviour such as online bullying or addiction that could increase as a result of employees requiring less human interaction or spending too much time online.
The desire certainly exists to see how working in the Metaverse will affect companies and operations. It’s also great that industries and technology experts are already bringing potential challenges to light so solutions can be discussed and tested before virtual work environments are tested with focus groups.Twinbru_Image_Thumbnails Article 2_Dec2022_Image04

An optimistic perspective

Because Twinbru is rooted in presenting a digital solution to a real-world problem, we are interested in the positive benefits theoretically available in the Metaverse.

Our fabric digital twins are the first step in many businesses to operating in more digital environments and forging greater connections between professionals around the world. We have collaborated with James Dunlop Textiles in New Zealand through digital communication and our partner platforms all have an international presence, proving that technology is making connections much easier.

The companies currently invested in building a Metaverse of their own will be the trailblazers of this new idea of having offices in digital worlds. We watch their progress with excited curiosity and look forward to seeing them furnish their new, virtual workspaces with many of our Twinbru digital fabrics.

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