Metaverse is the next generation of the internet, enabling creators to deliver connected, immersive experiences based on activities.
The internet has consistently demonstrated the capabilities to connect people, continuously evolving since the 90s, and the way we all interact with the web has evolved. The three critical eras of the evolution of the web are:
- Web 1.0 – Read-only static, desktop browsing, eCommerce, etc.
- Web 2.0 – Read & write interactive, SaaS, marketplaces, subscribed content, mobility, social network, etc.
- Web 3.0 – Read, write & trust, tokenization, decentralization, blockchain-based, semantic web, NFTs/Cryptos, dApps, smart contract, etc.
Web 3.0 is mainly about who will own and control tomorrow’s internet. On the other hand, Metaverse seamlessly connects our physical and digital lives, creating a unified, virtual community where we can work, play, relax, transact, and socialize. However, the Metaverse is still early in its evolution, and there is no single, encompassing definition to one to follow. Nevertheless, there is a lot of excitement around Metaverse, much of it driven by technology companies, many of them claiming to be Metaverse companies or building Metaverses to enrich or augment people’s digital and physical existences.
Many activities that currently take place in our physical environments will eventually take place in a Metaverse, such as purchasing accessories for online avatars, buying digital land and virtual homes, participating in a virtual social experience like events, shopping in virtual malls, using virtual classrooms to experience immersive learning, buying digital art, collectibles, and digital assets (NFTs).
How can the Metaverse transform the workplace?
Today’s workplace looks vastly different from what we could have imagined just a couple of years ago. Now, the metaverse promises to bring persistent, decentralized, collaborative, and interoperable opportunities in the new world of work. That can eventually help enterprises achieve better engagement, collaboration, and connection with their employees through virtually augmented workspaces.
We have already realized that remote work can be stressful in the last years. Remote workers were experiencing difficulties separating home and work life, finding it hard to switch off from the daily grind. So, virtual workplaces can better differentiate between home and work life, creating the workplace sensation and then leaving after working hours. Moreover, such workplaces don’t need to have a typical office environment in the background but rather a flexible location where employees feel comfortable working.
Organizations that want to hold the seats in the early adopters’ category can encourage employees to communicate with their colleagues at a virtual training center, visit virtual events, explore employee lounges, which can eventually be a connection point beyond work, relax in well-being places and build relationships among broader workforces. In addition, workforces may create virtual avatars that match their personalities, likes, and appearance. Moreover, such immersive experiences in Metaverse would be significantly exposed for candidates during their job application journey.
The top layer of Metaverse is about an experience because the Metaverse is ultimately about delivering unique experiences for users better than the current alternatives. From the drastic employee experience point of view, Metaverse can act as a:
- Learning and event space
- Workplace training center
- Employee lounge
- Well-ness space
- Alternative workplace
Together with the experience, there is also an economic reward system for participating in the Metaverse, which is, in fact, one of the key differentiators from the existing atmosphere. A robust multi-dimensional reward model based on the economics of cryptocurrency tokens can potentially replace their incomes in the physical world. Interoperability within different Metaverse worlds is an essential differentiator to overcoming current legacy problems.
Moreover, think about a physical workplace where you work with robots, humanoids, and other intelligent machines as co-workers. Our colleagues in the Metaverse will not be limited to the avatars of our real-world colleagues. Instead, we will be joined by many digital colleagues who will be knowledgeable, AI-powered, human-like bots. These cognitive agents will act as advisors and assistants, doing repetitive high, volume work in the Metaverse and generating human workers for more productive, creative, and value-added tasks.
Are there any bottlenecks in achieving these promises?
The concerns and complexities of taxation, social securities, employment law, immigration, cross-border agreements, pay norms, contracts, and payments have pushed many organizations not to enforce such a level of anywhere working circumstances. Metaverse has legal, employment, privacy, regulation, and compliance challenges.
User identification and privacy protection will be essential elements for interacting and transacting in the Metaverse. Moreover, preserving users’ ability to have multiple identities, including private KYC for business and payments. In addition, verified credentials are a must to enable the easier identification of community and the prevention of cyberbullying. Therefore, data privacy and ownership are critical in Metaverse.
Many open questions regarding the regulatory framework that can govern the Metaverse. The major one would be related to:
- Overall regulatory, tax, and accounting protocols can guide managing the Web 3.0 digital assets, properties, and commercial transactions in the virtual world.
- Services that support the virtual world may be required to adhere to local legal requirements, although accessible globally.
- Elaboration of community governance.
What sort of progress is needed for the Metaverse to transform HR and work?
Metaverse can undoubtedly change many aspects of the world of work; however, the proper allocation of talent, values, culture, and skills is vital. Correct planning for the future workforce and workplaces, new work norms, and the changing dynamics in the employment laws are some of the critical strategies that HR leaders can explore. HR must understand Metaverse dimensions and how they can add value to the workforce and talent.
It’s always meaningful to scan the technological changes in advance to attract and retain talents, especially when a large workforce belongs to the new generation. Many business models, infrastructure, technologies, and opportunities will continue beyond Metaverse; however, the Metaverse can open a whole new experience to engage and collaborate. Neither everything in the Metaverse will be relevant for every business, nor will Metaverse dive into every business case. The web’s future state will continue to evolve to support the internet economy.