In our last post, we spoke about virtual land sale in the metaspace. Related to virtual spaces, COVID-19 and the accompanying lockdowns required people to quarantine and isolate themselves. This has led to the rise of remote work, be it “work from home” or “work from anywhere”. As a result, this pandemic has become the catalyst to people not returning to their physical offices, forming the perfect precusor to a metaerse workforce.
As a result, many companies faced challenges with remote work ranging from communication, interaction, and receiving genuine feedback from colleagues, customers, and suppliers. Afterall, email is an insufficient alternative to in-person interactions. Moreover, the use of low-level cyber communication (e.g., MSN messenger, Skype) proved to be inadequate too.
Remote communications technology and applications experienced unprecedented growth, investment, and interest when many professionals could no longer meet face-to-face. This has led to the workforce migrating to more visual, interactive, responsive, and realistic work environments to conduct their meetings, presentations, and perform other activities that require collaboration with others. The simulated work environments made the interactions and meetings in cyberspace more productive and less stressful.
As more and more people arranged online meetings using video technology, Zoom fatigue became a problem. Zoom fatigue occurs when people online feel stressed, tired, worn out, frustrated, anxious, or on edge before, during, and/or after a video/online meeting. The tired feeling comes from the meeting participants feeling pressured to be online most of the time.
In face-to-face meetings, people focus on more than just the meeting participants’ faces, voices, and appearance. However, in a video/online meeting, people’s faces, backgrounds, and voices are the primary focal points because the participants have them magnified on their screens and they have nothing else to focus on when engaging in the meeting. The other challenge is that when trying to gauge people’s reactions, interests, level of cooperation, and participation, the moderator can only make guesses at best. Sometimes, participants don’t even know that they are dealing with zoom fatigue.
The pressure to be perceived as active, interested, prepared, engaged, and a team player during video/online meetings caused many participants to feel drained and dread the video/online platform. This became especially problematic for people who had more than one video/online meeting a day or during the week.
The solution to Zoom fatigue was to create a virtual workspace that simulated the traditional workspace. This was done so that staff would not feel so drained, start to have appropriate boundaries at home, and have more human-like interactions with one another. The way to do this was to make use of teleportation, holograms and avatars.
The metaverse workforce has been teleported to the ever-evolving metaverse workspace. Teleportation involves taking workers from the physical environment and moving their minds and energy into a cyber workspace. The cyber workspace is then navigated by the workforce and treated like a digitized version or simulation of the traditional workspace.
Teleportation creates a more realistic workspace and puts cyber workers in the proper mindset to do their jobs and interact with others online. The result has been that they have become more productive and better able to build relationships between themselves and the people they interact with during their cyber ‘work day’. Teleportation is also a great way to have workers visit multiple workspaces and meeting spaces.
Workers are teleported to hologram workspaces for meetings and collaborations. The holograms may resemble a company’s workspace or they may differ from it to varying degrees. The purpose of these holograms is to create an environment in which company staff can move from room to room, floor to floor, or even engage in private meetings and conversations while other people are using the same platform and doing a variety of other things.
The best part about the hologram workspace is that the digital environment and its elements are responsive to the actions of the avatars in it. This interactive digital space that is responsive to the actions of those within it is more akin to a natural work environment and reduces Zoom fatigue because participants no longer feel that they have to be ‘on’ all the time.
The metaverse workforce no longer stresses out over its physical appearance, location, or background because those things are no longer on view to other meeting participants. Physical locations and their orderliness are masked by the use of metaverse holographic workspaces. In cyberspace, the workforce can use avatars similar to vtubers to represent themselves and interact with others. People working in cyberspace can create digital characters that become active when they enter the workspace.
Avatars are a more exciting and creative way for people working in cyberspace to present themselves to others. The avatars can be customized and even represent people’s alteregos and their work persona. People’s avatars are likely to act differently than the people behind them because most people act differently at work than they do when they are not at work.
There are three cutting-edge (closed) metaverse workspaces that are eagerly being awaited by the metaverse workforce. The three leading workspaces are Meta, Microsoft Mesh, and Horizon Workroom, followed by a new and recent metaverse app Xirang that was launched by Baidu.
Microsoft Mesh uses holograms and a combination of mixed and extended virtual reality applications.
Microsoft Mesh manages to bring together virtual reality and an augmented reality that users can interact with via their avatars. Microsoft is also working to create 3D virtual workspaces that can be used in retail venues and workplaces. Simply imagine going to work as playing a 3D game You just put on your VR headset and teleport to your metaverse workspace where you interact with other avatars during your workday. At the end of your workday, you disconnect from the metaverse by taking off your headset, thereby creating the boundaries.
Meta is Facebook’s metaverse workspace where people’s avatars interact with one another while they work, travel, and entertain themselves. The avatars are the digital representatives of the people who live, work, and socialize in cyberspace via a VR headset or software application. Interestingly, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, has opined that he thinks that in the future people will be able to live their entire lives in the metaverse. With that perspective, he seeks to create a virtual space that can completely replace the physical world.
Horizon Workroom is a VR digital workspace that enables groups of people to meet and collaborate with one another in cyberspace. The meeting participants can fully immerse themselves in the holographic rooms and even take their computers, desks, and keyboards with them when they enter the metaverse. In addition, the software has spatial audio that gives you the sense that you are actually in the hologram experiencing your avatar’s digital life. Moreover, there is a whiteboard in the rooms that can be used for presentations, collaborations, and taking notes.
Baidu has released a metaverse app, allowing users to explore virtual environments through smartphones, personal computers, or VR goggles. The metaverse beta app, called Xirang (“Land of Hope”), allows users to create avatars and chat with other participants, even in a work environment.
As more and more firms work to make the metaverse a comfortable, safe, all-encompassing environment, others are working to take online gaming and entertainment to a level beyond the imaginations of most people. So, what does the metaverse workforce have to look forward to?
Fancy your avatars wearing office clothes? As the metaverse is humanized, retailers are working to bring the retail experience to cyberspace. Their hope is that they can convince people to abandon shopping at brick-and-mortar stores and to do their shopping in metaverse stores. Using VR, they can try on clothes, sample products, and shop for goods without ever leaving home.
The desire for people to stand out in the workplace is still very real in the metaverse, leading to the rise of virtual luxury products and services. Gucci and other high-end brands have begun designing VR products that can be sold to outfit people’s avatars. Ultimately, the goal is for people to be able to buy brand name clothing and accessories that their avatars and to fully customize their look and appearance.
Companies have already begun developing real estate markets in the metaverse. While the metaverse is infinite and there is no shortage of places to set up shops and workplaces, companies are working hard to change that perception. They want to create the impression that there is a scarcity of locations that can be considered prime real estate in the metaverse.
Moreover, if you are not in a prime location then your workplace, shop, or venue is in a less desirable metaverse neighborhood. There will of course be issues (e.g., taxation, licenses, zoning) that will arise if metaverse real estate really becomes a hot market or serious investment for people.
Workspaces in the metaverse are revolving rapidly. The metaverse workspace is customized to appeal to very different groups of people who may not be able to interact in the physical world or simply choose not to do so. Yet, Zuckerberg’s idea of an all-encompassing metaverse that people never have to leave is unattainable and seemingly unlikely to ever become an option for most people. Indeed, Baidu’s chief technologists have indicated that it would take a further 6 years to see a working version of Xirang for enterprise adoption to happen on a massive level. Will physical offices be irrelevant in future? Only time will tell.