Imagining the Future of Metawork
Right now, everyone is talking about the Metaverse.
It’s essentially the new “AI”, “Cryptocurrency” or “Blockchain” – a tech-focused buzzword which pushes us to reimagine what our future lives might be like.
Despite the excitement and chatter around the Metaverse, there’s still a lot of confusion around how it’s going to influence the world we live in. Big names have only recently begun to explore what the “metaverse” could mean going forward, not just for entertainment, but for communication, workplace innovation, and collaboration too.
Let’s explore the concept of Metawork.
What is the Metaverse, and who’s building it?
More than just a sci-fi concept, the Metaverse is essentially a combination of various elements in technology, designed to allow users to live within a digital universe.
The term was originally introduced in a 1992 novel by Neal Stephenson, where the “Metaverse” was a shared imaginary place, made available over a fibre-optics network and projected into VR goggles.
The concept of the metaverse in Stephenson’s novel is actually pretty similar to what most companies imagine when discussing the virtual future today. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (Now Meta), is just one of the innovators investing in this new concept.
As part of the Facebook Connect conference for 2021, Zuckerberg announced his strategy to begin working on a more “immersive and embodied” internet experience, where you can communicate, collaborate, and interact in a new world.
While exact definitions of the metaverse may change, most imagine it as a social, shared space, with avatars to represent users, and unique environments to explore.
When Will the Metaverse be here?
It’s difficult to know exactly when the “metaverse” as today’s innovators imagine it will be accessible to the wider public. However, certain aspects of the concept are already making their way into our day-to-day lives. An obvious example is in Meta (Facebook), which owns the Oculus company responsible for creating VR headsets.
Meta has already introduced Horizon Workrooms where employees can essentially collaborate and work with their colleagues in real-time, similar to how they’d interact in a metaverse landscape.
Microsoft is pursuing similar goals with “Mesh for Teams”, where users can create AI-enabled avatars of themselves to interact in digital meetings.
Can we Work in the Metaverse?
If the visions of companies like Meta are correct, then the Metaverse will be a comprehensive environment, almost like a secondary planet, where we can do virtually anything. Already, we’re beginning to see examples of this in the VR and AR environments being built for the workforce by innovators like Microsoft, Oculus, and Magic Leap.
To fully enter the metaverse, of course, we’ll need access to the right technology. At the moment, this will at least include some manner of XR headset. However, it could also include various other things, like haptic feedback solutions to make you feel more invested in the space.
The more technology required to enter the metaverse, the more restrictive the environment may become. After all, teams will need to be able to afford the technology required, and they’ll also need to be comfortable enough to use it for long periods – something that’s not always possible with today’s VR headsets.
What is Metawork?
If the concept of working in the metaverse becomes a reality, it opens the door for the future of “Metawork”. Most experts agree that the metaverse will eventually redefine the way people work, particularly now that remote and hybrid working is growing more common.
In an environment where fewer people are travelling to and visiting a dedicated “workspace”, the Metaverse and Metawork could provide us with a secondary virtual space for collaboration, communication, and creativity.
With the metaverse, we’ll not only be able to communicate with people in a shared virtual environment, we’ll also be able to experiment with models of products and machines in a safer, more interactive format.
For instance, you could build a blueprint for a car in the metaverse with your colleagues, changing materials and design elements at will, without waste.
What are the Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Metawork?
The possible benefits of Metawork are huge. In a virtual workplace, we don’t have to be sharing the same physical space as our colleagues to access all of the same benefits in terms of shared information, content, and collaboration.
The metaverse takes the concept of things like video conferencing for remote work to the next level. Rather than just seeing your colleague’s face, you’ll be able to see a full virtual avatar, and interact with it just like you would a real person. There’s even scope for body language and facial expressions.
At the same time, Metawork allows us to unlock a new level of creativity. We can visualize and solve problems in 3 dimensions, drawing up mock-ups of products we can share with team members, or present to customers for approval.
There’s infinite space in the metaverse to develop your ideas as much as you’d like and share them with as many people as possible.
The metaverse could even be beneficial for the environment, reducing the amount of wasted materials which usually come from R&D projects.
Of course, there are drawbacks too. Creating a comprehensive metaverse which enables fast-paced and efficient working experiences requires a lot of bandwidth and excellent technology. Initially, companies may need to invest a lot just to have a shot of entering the metaverse.
At the same time, there will likely be concerns about how information is shared and protected in such a wide-open space, and how we can protect the privacy of employees when they’re working in a virtual landscape. We even have the challenge of uncomfortable and disorienting headsets to overcome before we can begin to make progress on a genuine metaverse opportunity.
What Kind of Jobs will be Available?
If the future of Metawork is successful, the opportunities are potentially endless. Many of the jobs available will likely resolve around creative practices, like digital fashion designers, who can experiment with materials without actually using them.
We could also have medical professionals who can examine a digital double of your body when you need help overcoming an illness or injury.
Other possible jobs include:
- Tour guides: Imagine someone who can guide you around incredible places within the metaverse, just like a physical tour guide. The only difference is there’s really no limit to what or where you can tour in the metaverse.
- Construct architect: A construct in the metaverse is an element developed from scratch, such as an experience, object, or place. This will require a lot of creative skill and expertise from developers and designers.
- Smart contract lawyers: Deals and transactions in the metaverse will require new methods ensuring legality. Blockchain technology and smart contract lawyers may become more essential in this digital age.
So, will you earn more in the metaverse? Will, this depends.
The chances are you’ll definitely have higher earning opportunities to begin with, as metaverse roles require very significant skills in the digital world. However, as the metaverse grows more commonplace, these talents could become a natural part of the educational ecosystem.
The Future of Metawork
The future of the metaverse and Metawork raises some interesting questions about what life might be like in our new digital future. Will you be able to choose between Metawork and real work, just like we’re choosing between remote and in-office employment now? Will democratised employment become an option, and will new jobs appear?
Right now, it’s difficult to predict what the future might look like in the Metaverse, but it definitely seems to becoming a lot sooner than we thought.