What is the Metaverse and is it the future of the office?
People say the future of work is virtual. If so, the future is now. From video and voice conferencing tools to online team management software, the office has evolved into a space, undeterred by time or distance. However, advancements in workplace technology have gone beyond just being online. Now, we welcome an era of augmented and virtual reality. A concept which is now being referred to as the metaverse.
To understand the metaverse and its implication on workplace culture, we’d need to explore its building blocks — augmented and virtual reality.
Augmented reality and virtual reality: a definition
Although the two phrases deal with the digital manipulation of reality, they are different.
Augmented reality (AR) deals with the superimposition of digital data and images on the real world. With AR, you’re aware of your physical environment and the digital. It is merely an overlay.
For instance, Snapchat’s AR lens, which overlays icons/art over a user’s media, is an example of augmented reality, albeit on a smaller scale. Virtual reality (VR), on the other hand, creates a fully digital or computer-generated world. It completely replaces the physical. The generated environment could be a replica of your current surroundings, a designated place, fantasy world, or an office.
With their combined ability to bridge the digital and physical worlds in a more interactive manner, it’s no wonder AR and VR have moved past the gaming industry and into business.
Already, big tech company, Facebook, has staked its place in the VR space with the rebranding of its name to Meta and its development of an immersive VR platform — “an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it”, states Mark Zuckerberg in his Founder’s Letter. According to Zuckerberg, Meta’s focus would be to bring the metaverse to life. So…
What is the Metaverse?
The “Metaverse” concept is a matrix of augmented and virtual reality ecosystems and platforms. It can also be described as a mirrored version of our physical world, composed of shared 3D virtual spaces, all linked to create a massive digital experience.
It is an immersive virtual world that mimics the real thing — with some alterations, of course.
So, instead of opening a conferencing app to talk to your team, you can “be” there in a virtual replica of your desired space, and so can they.
Think Ready Player One, but for the office. The metaverse’s popularity has risen steadily over the years, but the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to provide a better solution for remote collaboration have increased interest in the subject. Can the metaverse really help with remote and hybrid work? That’s the billion-dollar question, and here’s your answer below.
What are the benefits of the metaverse to the workplace?
In August 2021, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) launched an open beta of its VR workspace simulation platform, Horizon Workrooms. And with it came a trail of speculation as to its usefulness in the office, especially with the gadgetry requirements.
However, the metaverse has several advantages, business-wise. They include:
- Quicker decision-making
With VR, you’re collaborating and receiving instructions in real-time. There are no long emails with hundreds of people copied so they can sign off on it. In your VR workplace, you can see everyone, and you can collect their opinions on an idea faster.
This follows from the first advantage. Mixed reality or virtual reality workroom lets you share information better. For instance, if you wanted to conduct a very hands-on lecture on a product, it’ll be much harder and inconvenient for you via video call. But in VR, you could throw up a 3D model of the product, and your audience can interact with it… and with you.
In-person coaching and onboarding seminars are expensive. In fact, running an office is. You have to account for utilities, transport, and such. Adding VR to your workplace technology reduces this. You, employees, and guests can attend meetings from anywhere in the world.
VR may be your answer to a healthy workforce. VR meetings mean people can interact with each other while still physically distancing.
Also, a virtual room is especially useful when you’re working with potentially dangerous elements. For example, with VR, you can teach how to couple a heavy-duty machine without risking a physical injury.
16% of remote employees struggle with loneliness, according to a 2021 survey by Buffer. Interactive VR workrooms can help your staff fight isolation and increase their productivity.
The adoption of a simulated environment could provide a space to test new ideas or prototype products and solutions. With Somnium Space, a free to explore VR app, and Teslasuit parent company VR Electronics Ltd collaborating to create an increasing stimulating metaverse, we could soon see development in a variety of sensory sensations. Could adding features like touch, feel and weather provide a wider arena for prototyping?
How can offices use the metaverse?
There are several virtual office platforms that can provide you with the virtual working space you need. You can opt for uncomplicated virtual office layouts like MyHive’s cloud-based office. Or real-time 3D avatars and graphics like Virbela or Meta’s Horizon Workrooms.
If you aren’t keen on getting everyone on your team an expensive headset yet, you will definitely need reliable, state-of-the-art computers in your office.
The ASTRO All-in-one display system is the best choice for your VR display requirements. Its enterprise-grade security coupled with a simple, no coding required design makes it a reliable but secure tool in the office — or wherever your staff may be. The Astro kiosk can also attach to walls, and glass. It’s also equipped with media and picture display supports to give you a clean 4k representation of your virtual workspace.
The metaverse is the next digital revolution. And it’ll profoundly transform how we work, especially remotely. As haptic headsets and virtual reality kits become affordable, more companies will embrace the advantages of VR. Why not join the train early? And with the best hardware.
To keep up and be ready for the future office implementing a CAFM (Computer-aided facility management) is the best place to start: