Fareen Tahseen (fictional) glances up at the board, the pie chart displaying favorable statistics. She steers her gaze around the room, observing the reactions of her co-workers, and is met with several nods of approval. The meeting that ended just now has led to the finalization of a collaboration they had been anticipating.
The day had been productive. She slides her card through the attendance machine, signaling her departure, and leaves the room with a smile etched onto her face. Heaving out a long, contented sigh, she takes off her VR headgear, head slightly buzzing, and her thoughts turning away from work for now.
You’ve just taken a glimpse at how office work may be handled in the future!
Post-pandemic, using Zoom to hold an emergency meeting or conducting a rescheduled class using Google classroom has become customary. This augmented reality is a platform that immerses the user in a mesh of the real and virtual worlds.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are inextricably tied to the metaverse, the current tech buzzword, thanks to the rebranding of Facebook to Meta in 2021. While AR keeps the real and virtual worlds perfectly discernible, VR provides a more extensive experience by entirely plunging the user into an artificial atmosphere, making it difficult to distinguish between reality and virtual reality.
Although virtual reality isn’t anything novel in specialized fields such as surgery, astronomy, manufacturing, and law, the pandemic has restructured the way of almost every profession, propelling a shift from the nine-to-five workplace model to working remotely via online platforms.
This rapid transition has prompted several questions: are we collectively moving away from the traditional workplace model? If so, how fast will people adapt? The rapid transition during covid seeded a newfound love (or tolerance) for digital workspace, or so the result of a recent McKinsey survey shows. Cited by Forbes, this survey shows that 87% of workers would take advantage of the opportunity to work remotely owing to its flexibility.
So what exactly is metaverse? Despite its overhype, most of us only have a vague notion of what it implies. Metaverse refers to a series of interactive worlds accessible via headsets. Users create avatars through which they physically interact with others. Microsoft Mesh by Microsoft and Metaverse by Facebook are notable examples. And while VR is only a component of the metaverse, the two terminologies are interchangeably used.
With the capabilities of VR technology advancing exponentially, high-profile companies such as Yelp, Twitter, and Airbnb have fully brought into remote work. Through headsets, metaverse will offer the engagement of face-to-face in-person work.
According to research and analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence, as cited by digite.com, a blog site on remote working, the Metaverse market could reach around USD 800 billion in 2024 versus nearly USD 500 billion in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just over 13%.
Some benefits remote working offers are less commuting time, more autonomy, reduced workspace, and more flexibility. It also entails certain challenges, including but not limited to the substantial cost of VR headsets and other associated technology, their prolonged use, getting employees accustomed to these devices, decreased productivity, burnout, and other negative health outcomes.
Some fear that drastically remodeling the workplace in this manner translates to ‘robots taking over the world.’ Even more so, some technologists staunchly believe in the futility of metaverse projects, believing them unnecessary and problematic.
While the debate over the feasibility of the metaverse rages on, there is little room for doubt about the metaverse’s impact on our present lives, personal or professional. As such, corporate leaders must assess the utility of metaverse and effectively integrate them into workspaces.