Old-world offices are moving to the metaverse

By George Hopkin
It’s not just the well-worn web brands that make the metaverse. As more companies go virtual, is this “the nail in the coffin” of traditional workplaces?

Even if the world is yet to get a clear idea of what exactly Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse is going to look like when it is complete, that has not stopped brands and businesses of all sizes from kicking their tyres and considering what can be done in this brave new virtual world.

Sports giant Nike is one of the first big-name, non-tech brands to welcome the metaverse with the high-profile investment in its virtual world, Nikeland. The company is also set to mimic real-life experiences in the virtual reality world as players in the metaverse will get a chance to wear digital Nike products. 

In the UK, office space heavyweight Regus recently commissioned what they described as the biggest survey yet of company leaders and office workers, in order to gauge views on working in the metaverse. 

Respondents were enthusiastic, says Regus, with 71% of business leaders saying that the metaverse will open up new opportunities, and 65% already considering it as part of current virtual and hybrid work strategies.

Findings also include:

  • 65% of business leaders believe the metaverse will be more transformational than any other videoconferencing technology
  • 44% of office workers think communication will be improved by the metaverse
  • 35% of workers and business leaders believe onboarding and training will benefit from the metaverse

“The metaverse is yet another nail in the coffin of the outdated nine-to-five concept of work,” explains Mark Dixon, CEO of Regus parent IWG. “Visionary companies that understand how technology can transform work are likely to grasp this opportunity with both hands.”

Metaverse show-and-tell for the education sector

As the world took bold new measures to adapt to lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, the education sector has been perhaps the largest traditional sector to move fundamental business products and services online, so it’s not surprising to learn experts are eyeing up the metaverse for opportunities.

“Learnings in VR offer the same benefits as traditional digital learning, such as scalability, no travel costs, and availability anytime, anywhere,” training consultant Hannah Rauth told Regus in the company’s recent white paper The Metaverse: The Future of Work?

“But additionally, VR creates immersive learning experiences where learners are as close to the ‘real world’ as they can get. Real-life scenarios, such as performance discussions or salary negotiations, are simulated, and learners can practise and apply their skills.”

Prior to the pandemic, Dublin-based technology services and consulting company, Accenture worked with Microsoft to build a virtual campus called “The Nth Floor” for people to gather and participate in online virtual events.

“We’ve devised a vision for how our people can, and should be able to interact, regardless of geographic separation,” explains Jason Warnke, Senior Managing Director - Global Digital Experiences Lead at Accenture. “Today this concept has been hyped up as ‘the metaverse’ – but for us, it’s how we want to host a virtual coffee break, conduct training, or host important all-hands meetings. In short, it helps our people to be there without physically being there — even when we return to our own offices.”

A virtual campus called One Accenture Park offers an immersive experience which Accenture says enables new hires to experience “orientation” in a more personal way. This year, 150,000 new hires will work from the metaverse on their first day at Accenture, says the company.

Gen Z content creators mean metaverse business

A crucial part of the creation of a successful metaverse will be driven by content creators already enjoying success on existing social media platforms, Rory Kenny, CEO and Co-Founder of music technology company Loudly, told AI Magazine earlier this year.

“Our recent research with YouGov found that a fifth of the UK's Gen Z population were already making their main income or planning to, solely from creating content,” says Kenny. “This research proves the immense appetite there is currently for people to pursue careers that are funded by commercial partnerships and collaborations with organisations seeking to raise their profiles online with targeted audiences.”

Products and services such as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) will be offered by influencers, predicts Kenny.

“Essentially, it’s a win-win-win situation,” he says. “Creator, community and metaverse itself win if they cooperate together. Creators are only successful if they reach a large enough audience and find a way to monetise their content. The community only uses a platform if it recognises added value from a creator or brand. And the metaverse itself can only exist if it keeps creators and the community on the platform.”

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