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Workplace Evolution: What Place Could the Metaverse Have?

By December 7, 2022No Comments

Have you ever thought about what the future of our workplaces could look like? From recruiting to onboarding and skill development of employees, the metaverse will provide an enhanced level of interaction between virtual and physical spaces. I decided to take a deeper dive and conduct some research on how companies are testing out new spaces for connection and collaboration. 

According to Gartner[1], widescale adoption of metaverse technologies is more than 10 years out but that doesn’t mean people are not ready and thinking about this transition. In a recent McKinsey survey “two-thirds of consumers around the world were excited about transitioning everyday activities to the metaverse, especially when it comes to connecting with people and collaborating with remote colleagues.”[2]  In their research, they also found that, “95% of executives believe the metaverse will have a positive impact on their industry.” So, there is openness to utilize this technology to open new doors and help our organizations and employees thrive.

Some companies have leaned into the metaverse for onboarding during the COVID-19 pandemic. Accenture onboarded 150,000 new hires using VR headsets instead of merely using Zoom. They created an immersive space called One Accenture Park where they were involved in various activities and teamwork.

I think the potential of the metaverse to enhance employee engagement is exponential. It will be easier for employees to interact across the world in an environment that feels real and is fun. Leaders at all levels can interact and learn from each other without having to leave their home offices. In the example from Accenture, senior level leaders shared with new hires critical knowledge to be successful in their roles. It has been shown that building new skills and knowledge within the metaverse is a much more inclusive way to build out capabilities within organizations. Studies have shown that knowledge transfer in this space is expeditated here as the interaction is live and interactive. The barriers to access these leaders will be lowered which will benefit the organization and prepare it for the future.

Here is Why I Think This Is Important Now

I am starting to see a connection between disengaged employees and senior leaders lack of connection and engagement. As leaders and HR in our organizations, we need to really pay attention to this divide as it can have detrimental effects if not addressed.

Let’s explore two studies. A 2022 study from the online platform NovoEd[3] found that employees have lost their connection to the organization and its goals while senior leaders feel more connected. 

Senior Leaders

Employees

65%

46% Connected & Aligned
35% 54%

Not Connected or Aligned

Here is another interesting look at research in the workplace from Microsoft[4] around perceived productivity.

Senior Leaders [asked if they feel employees are]

Employees

[Self-reported]

 
15% 87%

Productive

85% 13%

Not Productive

I believe this clearly demonstrates the current mindset in many workplaces around the world. The top three outcomes of this attitude are demonstrated in decreased trust, increased stress, and increase in turnover in organizations. Innovative organizations are looking to bridge this connection and collaboration gap with utilizing the metaverse in some capacity. In fact, many of the top video conference solutions such as Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meet are all working on building more features for collaboration. These are in early stages but you can see that the momentum is going in this direction.

There is an opportunity for leaders and HR to turn this around. We cannot merely implement a remote or hybrid work policy and expect everything to work out fine. We are in a period of rethinking our workplaces. To make this adjustment we need to engage with our employees on a regular basis and actively listen to concerns on what isn’t working and build on what is. This means our workplace strategies will evolve for the foreseeable future. In my book, I talk about focusing on authentic, human connections to build relationships with our team and employees across the organization. It is important now more than ever to focus on this and it starts with connecting.

What if the metaverse is the next level of real connection that our employees are craving and deserve in our new remote and hybrid worlds? I think it has much potential and certainly welcome exploring opportunities in this area as we are never going back to the way we worked in 2019. Good luck in your journey and exploration!

 

[1] Gartner Research, Sep. 2022. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2022-09-13-gartner-outlines-six-trends-driving-near-term-adoptio
[2] McKinsey Research, Jun. 2022. https://www.mckinsey.com/about-us/new-at-mckinsey-blog/meet-the-metaverse-creating-real-value-in-a-virtual-world
[3] NovoEd Research, 2022. https://novoed.com/resources/insights/the-great-workplace-disconnect/
[4] Microsoft Work Trend Index Special Report, Sep. 2022. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/hybrid-work-is-just-work

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