You remember the metaverse, right? Of course you do, it’s one of 2022’s buzziest words! In our post from a little while back called The Metaverse: What It Is, Who’s Making It, and Why It Matters, we noted that The Washington Post defined the term as, “a shared, virtual space that’s persistently online and active, even without people logging in,” – but the quote continues, “It will have its own economy, complete with jobs, shopping areas and media to consume.” The metaverse is abuzz in the K-12 sphere for a good reason, but its influence goes beyond the classroom and into the workplace, too! Interested to know how the metaverse is transforming corporate training? Read on!
A New Way to Approach Training – and Each Other
In an article for Forbes, Attensi marketing director Anthony Wong also defines the metaverse. He writes, “Many think of the metaverse as a specific piece of technology when, in fact, it’s a shift in how we interact with technology and our relationship with cyberspace. The functionality we know and love in our modern-day cyberspace will largely be the same…However, the metaverse will offer more interactive ways to get involved with the online world, mainly through the use of virtual and augmented reality.” He continues, “Ideally, the metaverse is the perfect intersection of reality and virtual reality.”
What does this intersection mean for the workplace? Wong asserts that the metaverse introduces a variety of training opportunities that were previously impossible in many industries. He gives the example of an aerospace engineer, who, through virtual reality, is now able to practice and make mistakes without putting anyone or anything at risk. We’ve written about this premise before – especially when it comes to virtual reality training for medical students and professionals. We believe that the ability to learn and grow from failure is just as important as success – and games provide a unique opportunity to explore, experiment, fail, and learn, all without dire consequences to ourselves or others!
The advantages of training in the metaverse don’t only lend themselves to aerospace engineering and surgery, however. VR training also presents employees with ways to learn and refine soft skills. Soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and so on – are important to every single industry. Wong writes that “metaverse avatars can help nurture vital customer service and other people-facing skills. Industries like hospitality, retail and leisure may find this particularly helpful. Create different customers and different scenarios for your team to play through and see what the outcomes are.” He also notes that training through the metaverse makes it easier than ever to “reach teams on an international scale.” The metaverse can make it easier than ever to connect with experts around the world to help nurture, train, and grow your organization!
Gotta Go Fast
Not only can corporate training through the metaverse help your employees learn soft skills and connect with one another – it can help them speed up the process. Looking to boost the productivity of your organization? A recent study found that VR in the workplace can reduce training time by up to 60%. That’s not surprising to us! As we noted above, VR can reduce the stress that comes with high-stakes situations, allowing employees to practice a task without putting anyone at risk. VR is also highly immersive and can make employees feel more connected to performing a task and more empathetic to others.
Due to these benefits and more, studies have shown that “VR workplace solutions have significantly reduced employees’ time in completing tasks, enabling the quick mastery of skills, and hugely reduced errors and the need for service calls.” This is especially important right now, while many industries are still grappling with and recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In industries that are facing personnel shortages, such as the medical field, VR training offers a solution to train employees quickly and efficiently.
Reimagining the Office
No, not the NBC mockumentary sitcom – the office. You know, the place you may have frequented before the pandemic, with all of the desks and computers and copy machines and the one shared microwave that hopefully was never used to heat up leftover salmon and broccoli? Well, in addition to reimagining classrooms and field trips, the metaverse may soon change what we think of when we think of “the office.”
Work activities in the metaverse include immersive learning experiences, but also could help remote employees feel as though they are in a designated workplace outside of their homes. From “Zoom fatigue”, to onslaughts of emails and messages, to reduced opportunities to get to know their coworkers, remote employees can suffer from exhaustion, isolation, and disengagement. Employee Benefit News Associate Editor Paola Peralta points out that “Since the start of the pandemic, engagement has been a leading concern for employers — 51% of employees are disengaged at work and 13% are actively disengaged, meaning they are feeling miserable at work and feeling negatively about their environment. But many employees still prefer working from home, making the metaverse a perfect environment for blending virtual work with ‘in-person’ interactions.”
In other words, the metaverse may provide a less tiring and isolating space to be while working. Employees could have the best of both worlds – the comfort and ease of working from home alongside the connection and motivation more often felt in the office. In an article for The Conversation, Sam Gilbert, an Affiliated Researcher for the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge writes that “The metaverse 1.0 will no doubt see organisations creating persistent VR workplace environments, in which employees can interact in real time as embodied avatars. VR versions of office spaces can be designed to encourage chance encounters and corridor chats. Imagine, for example, if going from one remote meeting to another involved leaving the conference room and crossing a bustling virtual atrium.” Gilbert notes solutions like this that are already available: Meta’s Horizon Workrooms, Microsoft Mesh, and Zigbang’s 30-floor VR office, Metapolis.
Gilbert also points out that there may be other advantages of working in the metaverse, including reduced bias in hiring interviews and its easy implementation among younger generations of workers, who already have the technical literacy to adapt to this new way of navigating the office.
In the near future, many employees may find that instead of hopping in the car to commute or sitting at their desk at home in front of a computer all day, “going to work” will mean putting on a VR headset, and moving about the office while simultaneously remaining at home. Or this may be the present for many people already! Regardless of the specifics, the metaverse will allow employees from all sorts of industries various benefits: to train more efficiently, grow in their understanding of themselves and others, and the ability to be in the office and at home at the same time – experiencing the benefits of both environments at once.
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