When most of us were struggling to return to normal lives and figuring out the possible ways to resume offices after a long pandemic phase, options such as hybrid and fully remote work models were explored and embraced. Around the same time, the intriguing concept of virtual workplaces in the metaverse evolved as an alternative to the office, gaining much traction in the HR world. Let us explore the meaning and potential of the metaverse in the future of work and find out if it is worth the attention of the HR folks.
Understanding Metaverse: Pixels To Voxels
According to several theories, the metaverse can be understood as an embodied internet that we can be inside rather than merely observe. By fusing physical atoms and digital bits, the metaverse aims to create a haptic, sensory-rich experience that gives the impression of being there without requiring actual presence. This alternative virtual reality (VR) world gives us the experience of being in it using our three-dimensional avatars. Augmented reality and immersive reality devices serve as the portal into the metaverse.
How Will Virtual Reality Transform HR?
Enterprises are factoring in the metaverse into their vision as they shape future strategies. In the future, a metaverse transformation will be necessary to evolve business operations, similar to digital transformation. New markets will surface along with new business preferences and paradigms for innovation, giving rise to brand-new skill sets that impact talent management.
Though the idea of VR is in its infancy, there are glimpses of what the metaverse might look like for HR. Virtual reality will enhance the experience to the extent of blurring the line between physical and digital environments. Regardless of physical distances, people will be able to work together in virtual rooms. Through the power of VR, people can hang out with colleagues, brainstorm, work on a document together, walk to a virtual room for a private conversation, and even use the currency to shop for office supplies. Virtual avatars can be deployed to deliver training, recruit talent, and engage employees in far-exciting ways beyond our comprehension today. Multiverses offer immense possibilities.
Possibilities Prompt The Need For Preparation
Technology experts foresee cyber security as a big concern in the VR world. With a limited understanding of the metaverse and its associated economy, installing firewalls and protection guards is challenging. Data privacy and workplace safety are some of the tech-related threats HR will have to grapple with.
HR will also have to work towards revising policies and determining ways to protect the workforce against harassment and abuse in the virtual world. To ensure older generation employees are on the same level playing field as the younger brigade, they will need more intensive training to be well-equipped to use the next-gen VR technology. Nevertheless, all this will require thorough navigation of the metaverse and an understanding of its scope and limitations by human resources leaders.
The VR concept has given birth to a whole new stream of futuristic skills requiring extensive learning programs. As the navigators of the human force, HR personnel will be among the first nominees to participate in learning to not only function in the metaverse but thrive in its novel environment. Further, they will have a crucial responsibility to ensure that people get the most out of the virtual world. Therefore, making HR’s role more complex and responsibilities extensive.
Immersive Experiences Powered By VR: A Welcome Change
As most companies are struggling to bring the personalized human experience back to life in the remote work scenario, the immersive experiences by VR in hiring, training, and managing employees will be a welcome change. The metaverse will pave the way to virtual job fairs participated by a diverse talent pool, thus breaking geographical barriers. In a three-dimensional virtual realm, people will experience more authentic remote collaboration in the interview and onboarding processes. Engaging the telecommuting workforce and building camaraderie with diversely located colleagues will not be a challenge anymore. Immersive VR meetings unconstrained by the limitations of existing online meetings will have more valuable outcomes.
As per the technology experts, however far-fetched, the possibility exists for people in their avatars in the metaverse to move from one world to another just as one would go from home to an amusement park, and from there to an eating joint. Movement between the worlds and immersive three-dimensional simulations will enable the development of simulation-based gamification to train people to face challenging scenarios and solve problems.
By way of their 3-D avatars, people will be able to attend company-hosted events and celebrations and have conversations over meals without concerns about safety or travel woes. Imagine having all these wonderful experiences without having to worry about logistics!
Even though we are unable to fully foresee the whole range of opportunities or threats that may materialize, it is evident that we are about to enter a fascinating new realm of the human experience. The metaverse’s applicability is going to be much broader than gamification alone. Apparently, HR folks cannot dismiss the metaverse and its enormous potential. Therefore, HR must remain at the helm, be inquisitive, stay curious, and be wary of investing too deeply in it without first navigating its waters. Leaders must be prepared to keep the emerging individual personas and human interests at the center of their policies, decisions, and strategies to ensure that people flourish in the next-gen workplace.