The Metaverse is a virtual or alternate world in which individuals are replaced by digital avatars and where they can gather together irrespective of their geographical location.
Sounds too simple? Well, that’s because it is an oversimplification of an intricate set of ideas. The reality is that the metaverse is a complex, growing creature, expanding its reach across technological dimensions. To that extent, even HR in the metaverse doesn’t sound like an unimaginable concept.
Ever since the adoption of AI and automation became mainstream, the possibilities of the impact of technology increased exponentially. Organizations are continuously looking to integrate new technologies into their existing processes.
But, in all seriousness, what does the metaverse even mean, and what possibilities does it have in store for HR?
What does the metaverse mean?
When the topic comes to explaining what “the metaverse” really means, I don’t imagine the conversation would be too far removed from the discussions about “the internet” in the 1970s. Nevertheless, I believe that the answer really lies in the vagueness of the term. Here’s an exercise for you: Find a sentence with “the metaverse” in it, and replace it with “cyberspace.” Nine out of ten times, the meaning of the sentence won’t significantly change.
That’s because the metaverse doesn’t refer to a specific type of technology, but is rather a shift in the way we interact with technology. What makes the metaverse so transformational is that it forms a part of the development to create a new version of the world wide web - Web 3.0.
In its essence, the metaverse is a more interactive version of today’s social networking mediums.
It can be made up of virtual reality (VR) - which is characterised as virtual spaces that continue to exist even if an individual isn’t present in it - as well as augmented reality (AR) which combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds. However, VR and AR aren’t critical tools to take part in the metaverse. Spaces with virtual world aspects like Fortnite that can be accessed through PCs, game consoles, or even phones, could be metaverse.
The metaverse is also a digital economy, where you can create, buy, and sell goods. While one can perform these actions on Fortnite, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Fortnite is “the metaverse.” That would be a bit like saying Google is “the internet.”
On the other hand, just as it would be accurate to say that Google builds parts of the internet, it is similarly accurate to say that the creator of Fortnite, Epic Games, is building parts of the metaverse. And other companies are embarking on a similar investment. Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta is a reflection of this.
The metaverse is a lot of things. Where we are at this moment is a vague sense of things that can kind of be called the metaverse.
HR in the metaverse - Which processes will convert first?
The metaverse is already here. The technologies that can bring people into the metaverse age are already proliferating the market. Let’s take a look at what HR in the metaverse can potentially look like as well as some real-world applications that illustrate its use:
1. Giving potential candidates the best experience virtually
A noticeable shift that’s already underway, the metaverse in the workplace will look like a heavy investment of businesses in the technological infrastructure of companies.
Virtual recruitment fairs are one example of candidates getting an opportunity to engage with potential employers and getting a real demonstration of the kind of company they could be working for. People want more businesses to offer virtual tours which will allow potential candidates to get a taste of the office culture.
For instance, check out this virtual tour by Deloitte developed by Blend Media that gives potential candidates a tour of the workplace. The tour can be viewed on the desktop along with a pair of headsets to give an immersive experience. Deloitte used Blend Media to create an engaging and interactive 360 experience that enabled candidates to feel confident and comfortable with their new office.
2. Creating immersive and hands-free work structure
Work and team structures will likely go through a fundamental change in the metaverse workplace. The past two years have already seen the workforce’s shift into the hybrid work structure, with meetings and collaborations taking place on technology platforms.
The metaverse will transform work by making group conversations and collaborations much more immersive by encouraging interactions using hands-free devices and avatars rather than laptops and smartphones.
For instance, Meta, previously Facebook, created Horizon Workrooms to reimagine remote work collaboration. The social networking giant described Workroom as a virtual meeting space where colleagues can work together from anywhere. Employees can join in a meeting as an avatar or dial into a virtual room by video calling through a computer.
With Workrooms, employees can use virtual keyboards to sketch ideas out together, bring their computer and keyboard into VR to work together, and also indulge in water cooler conversations that were dearly missed in the early remote working days.
3. Better and faster learning experience
Employees will need to learn how to work inside the metaverse. HR in the metaverse will witness an increase in change management training. The metaverse in the workplace will also mean investment in new technologies. Virtual human resource management will need to reassess how to educate and train employees in these new technologies and software.
For now, metaverse in HR can create interactive and immersive learning experiences for employees with the help of virtual reality. A VR training experience can improve employee performance by 70%, and employers can train & educate employees by helping them run through real-life scenarios in the VR format to prepare them.
Here’s an example of how MakeReal worked in collaboration with Vodafone to develop a VR application to allow learners to take on the role of field engineer to install and maintain cell phone infrastructure. Not only does a VR training experience make remote learning and skill development a possibility, but it also sees a 96% reduction in training time.
4. Creating a safe and inclusive work environment
Creating an inclusive and safe work environment is essential for any organization’s success. In today’s world, however, it can be difficult to foster such an environment when many of us are working remotely. That’s where Metaverse comes in. Metaverse enables team members and employers to come together in a virtual space to collaborate, share ideas and stay connected. It allows employers to create a safe and inclusive work environment by providing various tools and features which enable them to foster a sense of community.
5. Creating productive and collaborative working environment
Creating a productive and collaborative working environment is essential for any organization looking to increase efficiency and boost productivity. With the rise of remote work, organizations have been searching for innovative solutions to help bridge the gap between physical and virtual teams. Hr in the Metaverse is really changing the game when it comes to fostering collaboration and boosting productivity.
Metaverse is a private, secure platform that allows teams to collaborate on projects and tasks. With its wide range of features, including 3D spatial audio, video chat, and voice commands, users can create an immersive environment that facilitates collaboration and communication between remote teams.
The progress needed for the metaverse to transform HR
HR in the metaverse is still in development and unstable, so adopting it right away can be costly. Getting every employee a VR headset could cost companies $600-$1,000 per employee, not only would it involve VR headsets, but companies may need to help employees upgrade their broadband packages to support the tech and also offer training. That's a lot of money at such an uncertain time in the metaverse's development.
We are already living in a world where HR systems proliferate the market. Most organizations, including big names like Nike, have between six and fifteen solutions for human resources in place. Adding another tech stack to the plate would have to be approached with much caution.
The metaverse is an exciting new technology that businesses and HR departments should be aware of. Companies that take the time to consider the practical applications and opportunities for a metaverse in their organisation will be ahead of the game when it comes to meeting the needs of their employees.