Type “metaverse” into Google today, and you are met with more than 144 million search results. Clearly, people are talking about it — but outside of the tech world, this concept remains nebulous to many professionals.
Whether they perceive it as something that won‘t affect them or will put them out of business, it often seems inaccessible. Aquent‘s 2022 Future of Work report found that nearly 40% of employees surveyed don‘t believe their roles will make the leap. However, the metaverse needs experts in every field to build out its virtual world. It‘s up to employers and their advisers to embrace this change and help employees upskill to make the most of the metaverse.
Our firm defines the metaverse as a spectrum of experiences ranging from virtual place to digital ownership. It encompasses virtual and augmented reality as well as the components within this digital world, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and can even bring a wave of new opportunities to cryptocurrency and e-commerce. In sum, the metaverse is a growing universe of potential that will transform the ways we connect socially and professionally.
Put in these terms, it‘s easy to see this technology as the next step in communication. Such substantive change also may generate the same initial hesitations people had about the internet or social media, which have transformed our daily lives and the way we do business.
Some employees are hesitant to upskill simply because they don‘t understand what the metaverse is and how they fit into it. According to our latest research, 56.5% of respondents say it is important to work for an organization that has developed, or is creating, a metaverse strategy for customers. Another 52.6% of respondents intend to improve their skills to transition into emerging metaverse roles. For many, this plan is years off. In reality, employers and their employees should begin preparing today.
Right now, companies have an opportunity on par with the early 2000s internet boom to emerge as market leaders. But even with more than half of respondents deeming metaverse development and upskilling as important, only 15% of VPs and directors think that organizations are headed in the right direction and keeping pace with metaverse developments. More than twice as many respondents (33%) from that same group believe they are ill-prepared.
Leaders must find the right metaverse partners to guide them as they launch experimental programs to transform both the customer and employee experience. Once effective new ways of working are identified, then organizations can begin scaling.
Many major brands outside of the tech sector are taking strides in this direction. For instance, Nike has begun paving the way for people to design and buy digital sneakers, while Hyundai and Coca-Cola also took steps in 2022 to explore their position in the metaverse. Employers can invest in education now to quell their employees’ fears and ensure they thrive in their role in the workplace of the future.
As with any major innovation, companies must build capacity to make the transition as smooth as possible. Alongside employee education initiatives, companies can invest in dedicated innovation teams and begin integrating metaverse technology in small ways.
At Aquent, we formed a metaverse innovation team last year in hopes of migrating our workforce and upskilling associates. Ultimately, we’re building a metaverse practice across all divisions to deliver metaverse work solutions and co-create with our clients.
The most important thing for companies looking to explore what opportunities the metaverse has in store is to take that first step. Companies can find natural entry points to begin experimenting with how the metaverse can integrate and enhance the processes and practices that they already have in place.
For instance, we host bi-weekly meetings for senior leadership in the metaverse. Using the app Horizon Worlds in the Meta Quest virtual reality headsets, our leadership is able to meet together in the same virtual office, use their computers, give presentations and interact with each other using immersive 3D avatars. In addition, we use immersive gallery spaces to showcase our creative talent to clients and learn about their creative process and design thinking.
The modern workplace is always shifting — and the most successful companies are those that embrace these shifts and equip their employees to do the same. In recent years, we‘ve seen a major shift to remote work and an e-commerce platform boom, and in both cases, companies that resisted these changes fell behind.
This same dynamic is playing out now in the metaverse — and forward-thinking employers must start preparing. Empowering their workforce today will ensure their companies have success in all that the metaverse will bring to the workplace of tomorrow.