Work from home (WFH) has been a term we have all become very accustomed to over the last few years given the pandemics constant need to force us to change our routine whether because of government legislation, corporate requirements, or your own health situation. However, as we learn to live with Covid work from home is rapidly becoming work from anywhere (WFA) and technology is going to have to develop accordingly.
As it stands, we can all work alone, get things done, work on a spreadsheet or write a report etc but where this remote working falls flat on its face is the interaction with others, the brainstorming, the collaboration or simply being with others in a social sense which is so important to our fabric as humans.
This is where the metaverse comes in to play, or at least how the big tech are selling it. They see it as their next gravy train to billions. We are far from it at the moment, at least in a realistic sense but companies like Microsoft and Facebook are making inroads into this space by developing virtual worlds where through virtual reality technology we can create our own avatar and meet with colleagues in a virtual meeting room. Facebooks Horizon Workrooms is an example of this which was launched a few months ago. These new technologies in my opinion are currently actually a step backwards from solutions like zoom and teams where at least you can see your colleagues face, understand their expressions, and assess their emotion or feelings even if it is on a flat screen. With the new metaverse world of virtual meetings the avatars are set by yourself to be a representation of you, but they will not be able to convey your facial expressions etc onto the avatar, so it is more like a serious game scenario where you are in control of a character to discuss and solve your business problems.
Of course, this is I suppose Metaverse 1.0 and we can expect rapid development of this and where it will become a game changer is when you are transported to a hyper realistic conference room, maybe based on your own office, and where the character is a hyper realistic avatar of yourself where your facial expressions happening on your face are conveyed onto the avatar in the virtual conference room. Then it will feel like you are in a real meeting with your real colleagues, and you will finally be able to have a truly realistic and productive meetings where you get all the experience you would have had you all been actually in the same room together.
This in my opinion is when work from anywhere and the metaverse will become a game changer to business. Business centres will transform their offering to provide you with enhanced conference facilities that you can use, tech companies will be providing you with the collaboration tools and the telcos will be providing you with super high-speed connectivity to allow all this to happen in real time.
We are not far from this virtual reality, but we are definitely not there yet. As a regular business I would not advise jumping in just yet as I don’t think the benefits are there compared to what is already available but soon that will change. Keep your eyes on the developments and decide when the right time is for your company to dips its toes into the sea of the metaverse. When it does become truly beneficial it will take off like a rocketship that once ignited is unstoppable. That will be when work from anywhere becomes a truly achievable target for all businesses because you will be able to deliver for your employees the same experience as if they were in the office with their colleagues. So be careful not to be swept along with the euphoria until you know it benefits you but understand that you will have to jump on board at some time or risk being left behind. The metaverse is coming and will be here to stay.