Companies who prepare now will reap the rewards as the world migrates to new tech.
Much has been made of Facebook’s evolution into Meta, and their move to focus on the metaverse as the future of social technology. What some people don’t realize is that not only is the concept of the metaverse several decades old, the practical application of the metaverse is already here.
The metaverse means different things to different organizations and industries, but in general, it signifies a digital duplication of a real-world location or scenario. Hubs by Mozilla, launched in 2018, is an open-source platform that allows users to create virtual rooms, communicate with avatars and share content in the virtual space. Sandbox shifted from virtual game to full metaverse mode in November of 2021. Another vastly popular example is RoBlox, which, although 2D, is still a functioning world where people can play, socialize and buy and sell goods in the virtual economy.
Since the metaverse is poised to become part of everyday life, corporations have to be wondering, “What does this mean for my business model, my teams, and our strategic goals?” Asking these questions is the first step into the exciting new virtual reality world, but, as Hellen Keller famously said, “Ideas without action are useless.”
With that in mind, here are four ways you can prepare your workforce now to do business in the metaverse as the technology evolves.
Early adopters of VR, AR, and other immersive technologies will be more prepared as we gradually migrate to a new way of doing things. Many of your workers will have heard of the metaverse, and some may have even tried VR through cardboard headsets or a consumer gaming system. However, many more of them will be complete strangers to interacting in an immersive virtual world.
Giving employees opportunities to use VR or AR will not only build up familiarity and confidence with the technology, it will also get your team members thinking about how these applications can be adapted and applied for your business.
One productive way to provide exposure is through immersive virtual training opportunities. VR can be used to simulate everything from safety scenarios to situations requiring empathy, like sexual harassment training or diversity, equity, and inclusion education.
In any change to your business, it is a good idea to communicate clearly with your workforce at every step along the way. Even before adopting new technologies, open conversations about the metaverse and what it might look like as it applies to your organization will go a long way in getting workers ready.
Some individuals may be reticent to change, or not see the value in using virtual reality or other immersive technologies. If you want to take advantage of the new metaverse economy, setting the expectation of learning to navigate in the virtual space can help avoid a problematic disconnect later.
Encourage Exploration and New Ideas
All new technologies take time to grow and realize their potential. In the 1970s, the internet was just starting to take shape, but it was not yet the commerce powerhouse we know today. Instead, people were coming up with new ideas of how to use connected computers. Some of them were useless, or just too far ahead of their time, and didn’t stick. Other ideas, such as email, digitizing books, and creating online communities, became the seeds of big things to come.
The moral of the story is, we don’t know what the next big idea for the metaverse will be. It could pay off to allow workers the freedom to explore the ways technology fits into both their job roles and their broader lives.
Don't Discount Real World Experiences
We aren’t ready for a world like Ready Player One, where all aspects of our lives take place virtually. If the 2020 lockdowns taught us anything, it was that humans are not wired to be physically separated for long periods of time. There is immense value in face-to-face human interaction.
Think of immersive technology as an enabler, not a replacer. Some things are easier and more efficient to accomplish in a digital environment, and some are not. Metaverse technologies simply add options to your toolbox.
Time will tell if the immersive world of the metaverse is worth all of the hype, but it appears to be poised for much wider adoption by companies and consumers alike. Organizations that wait too long to embrace the technology may find that they have missed the opportunity to fully capitalize on the ideas, communities, and exchanges happening in the digital space.
Now is the time to expose employees to this technology, set and communicate goals, open up the floor for new thoughts and showcase how the metaverse can complement the routines workers already follow. This also shows real leadership and will set the tone for changes to come that match and eventually exceed what Mark Zuckerburg is dreaming up.