Might the maturation of the metaverse obviate the need to endure long commutes, soul-crushing traffic jams, and long days in the office?
What if we could simply work remotely, anywhere, anytime, while still enjoying the myriad benefits of participating in a cohesive, interactive work environment?
The Slow Extinction of Physical Work
The way we work has changed enormously since the advent of the internet, with a proliferation of devices permitting more remote working. Even before Covid, many people worked from home at least some of the time, answering calls, dispatching emails, and using video-conferencing software to call into meetings.
This trend is only likely to accelerate in the years to come, particularly with the rise of the metaverse.The question then becomes, what will happen to all the jobs that require physical labor?
The sad truth is that many such jobs are already vanishing, replaced by machines or eliminated altogether as companies slash costs and increase efficiency. While some human physical labor will probably always be required, advancements in AI are making many employees redundant.
Changing Work Habits
Setting aside the inexorable rise of our robot overlords, what potential does the metaverse offer to reinvigorate the way we work? Or rather, the way those of us who can hang on to our utility and jobs work?
Evidently, the metaverse allows us to work from anywhere in the world, unmoored from the office environment. By plugging into VR worlds, we can work from home, from the local coffee shop, indeed from anywhere that has a stable internet connection.
But we can already do that without the metaverse, so that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is that we can work remotely but still be in an office-like environment, only a virtual one. We (or our 3D avatars, in any case) can converse by the water cooler. We can have a meeting in a virtual conference room. We can have a staff party at the end of the day. Hell, we can put our office on the summit of Mount Everest if we want to.
What's more, the metaverse enables us to collaborate with people from all over the world in real time. We can have meetings and brainstorming sessions with others regardless of their physical location. And the metaverse gives us access to new and innovative tools that help boost our productivity. For instance, we'll be able to use virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) software for training, design reviews, task-automation and so on.
This vision is already being pursued. South Korean tech firm Zigbang has built its own high-rise metaverse office complex, within which its team busily works. Meta holds meetings in Horizon Workrooms. And Teamflow lets users move around a vast office as a floating circle of video.
Ultimately, the metaverse has the potential to completely revolutionize how we go about our 9-to-5. With this change, we’ll witness environmental gains as traffic decreases. Of course, it’s a zero-sum game: eco gains might be a plus, but there’ll be rampant job losses in the transport sector. With less office space leased, there’ll be less need for cleaners. The second order effects are mind-boggling.
So, will the metaverse reinvent the way we work? Very probably. But there’s a possibility you'll have retired before the revolution reaches your company.