Why Metaverse is important | Aparna Sharma | Consulting Editor | The People Management

MetaverseHere’s my attempt at defining the vague and complex term, that is, “Metaverse” – ‍It 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 “Metaverse” mean?

When the topic comes to explaining what “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. That’s because metaverse doesn’t refer to a specific type of technology, but is rather a shift in the way we interact with technology. What makes  metaverse so transformational  is that it forms a part of the development to create a new version of the World Wide Web(www) –
Web 3.0.

At its essence, 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) that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds. However, VR and AR aren’t critical tools to take part in metaverse. Spaces with virtual world aspects like Fortnite that can be accessed through PCs, game consoles, or even phones, could be metaversal.

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 “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 there are other companies embarking on a similar investment.

Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta is a reflection of this.

Metaverse is a lot of things. Where we are at in 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?

Metaverse is already here. The technologies that can brings people into the metaversal 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. Talent Acquisition

A noticeable shift that’s already under way, 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.

2. Work Structure

Work and team structures will likely go through a fundamental change in the metaverse workplace. The past two years have already seen workforce’s shift into the hybrid workstructure, with meetings and collaborations taking place on technology platforms.

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. Learning & Development

Employees will need to learn how to work inside the metaverse. HR in the metaverse will witness an increase in change management training. 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.

But the final question of the matter is, does HR in the metaverse currently have a well-paved path to succeed in business? The answer, for now, is no. When it comes to the practical application of the metaverse in the workplace, we have yet to see a strong contender.

In addition, the costs of adopting the tools to use within the metaverse may not be something that most businesses will be willing to take on. The technology for the metaverse is still in development and unstable to adopt.

And as I’ve already mentioned in the beginning, the metaverse isn’t a specific type of technology, rather it is a shift in the way we interact with technology. So, 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.

The metaverse is an exciting new technology that businesses and HR departments should be aware of. While the opportunities for metaverse in HR are still in their infancy, companies that take the time to consider the practical applications and the opportunity to use this technology to improve interaction within their organisation will be ahead of the game when it comes to reaping the benefits.

And, in today’s world, where meeting employee demands is more important than ever, companies must do everything possible to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the next big thing.