Abhijit BhaduriGuest Author

Metaverse And The Workplace

By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist

The office was a place people went to work. The mobile drove the physical workplace into the cloud. The pandemic drove talent discovery into the cloud before blowing up the office. The workplace needs new design principles. The Metaverse could be a starting point to build the new norms.

What on earth is the metaverse? I had to look it up. Metaverse refers to a shared virtual universe – much like the imaginary cities we see in the animation movies. It does not look fake, because you are part of it. It has immense possibilities. You can create a parallel universe complete with a virtual home where you and your friends stay, play, learn, go shopping or even skydiving. You can create any setting that you wish to. They even have their own money which can be used in the malls of the metaverse.

The Metaverse is more than a massive online multiplayer game or entertainment platform, it will become an integral part of life. You can experience the best of the metaverse and all you need is a virtual reality set.

Why does it matter?

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Web 1.0 means passive content consumption: In the early days of the internet, the websites had content that could only be viewed by the user. It was not a two way street. The viewer passively consumed the content. You office email system still retains the Web1.0 look and feel.

Web 2.0 meant interactivity: With Web 2.0, it became common for average web users to have social-networking profiles and personal blogs through either a low-cost web-hosting service or through a dedicated host. A comments section or tapping on a ‘like button’ or adding user generated content describes Web2.0. There are supporting technologies like “tagging” a photo or tweet that makes it possible to search for the photo or tweet.

Web3.0 means immersive experience: The ability to be a part of the world that is being seen on screen is the core quality of the Web3.0. The technology developments make it possible to use Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, faster chips and 5G. These will provide the creators endless possibilities. Sharing experiences and sharing creations is the big opportunity as platforms like Roblox can offer.

One company that has been at the forefront of the metaverse is Roblox. Their mission is to bring the world together through play. We enable anyone to imagine, create, and have fun with friends as they explore millions of immersive 3D experiences, all built by a global community of developers. 

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Roblox is powered by a global community of over two million developers who produce their own immersive multiplayer experiences each month using Roblox Studio, the desktop design tool. This brings together four elements – toys, gaming, entertainment and social media to create shared experiences.

Workplace need new design principles

Industrial Revolution has faded: Much of the workplaces we see today are designed on principles that were formed during the Industrial Revolution. Working in shifts and having someone to do the work and someone to supervise the work is a great reflection of the legacy mindset. Mass production was what built great businesses. Some businesses like movie-making or advertising were the “creative businesses” where many of the design principles were dropped. These businesses were seen to be the exceptions.

One size no longer fits all: Mass-production is based on the belief that every customer is the same. The same mass-produced car when sold in a different colour creates the illusion of difference and is “customisation”. But that differentiation is easy for competitors to clone. With the rise of Market Research it was possible to find “long tail” markets. Selling low volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers describes the era of “personalisation”. With social shifts coupled with economic improvement, individualisation became the way to win in the marketplace.

Read more Individualisation

Mass production norms don’t apply to creative work

Creative work follows very different norms. Today when we need creativity more than ever, it is important to rethink the workplace norms. The norms that creates mass-produced goods does not enable an environment where individualised services and hand-crafted goods can be produced. Managing creators is different from managing assembly line work. We are still in the early era of individualisation. Workplaces are still working with hundred year old norms.

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Only an expert can value creative work

We marvel at creative people and envy them. Organisations do not know how to measure creativity because all systems are designed for tangible output. Intangible elements like creativity need to be measured by the value created. There are millions of clones of the Mona Lisa painting, but an expert can recognise the real from the clone. The art expert values the real painting differently from any other look-alike attempt.

Metaverse norms – a starting point

Most workplaces have not yet moved to adopt the social media norm of two-way communication. Immersion in workplace content is a distant dream.
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Dave Baszuki, CEO and Founder of Roblox shared eight principles that form the design principles. What makes it an interesting framework to get us started is the large number of users they have gathered. They have 32 MILLION daily active users. They spend 2.6 hours every day choosing from the 20 million digital experiences to immerse themselves in.

They believe that the metaverse allows for eight design opportunities. Roblox describes them as:

fluid identity; friends; immersive experiences; low friction; variety; anywhere; economy; civility. These eight areas can be starting points for designing future workplaces.

  1. Be what I want to be: In the metaverse you can be whoever you want to be – a cartoon character, a soldier or make up artist… anything. The workplace must allow people to bring in their whole self. This is one of the most
  2. Building, playing and learning with friends: As in the metaverse, being able to work, play and learn with friends teaches us different ways of thinking. Workplaces must allow for opportunities to co-create. Creative collaborative relationships make for happier workplaces.
  3. Immersive experiences are memorable: When we sit on a roller coaster while wearing a VR headset, we find our stomach churning as the roller coaster takes a twist and turn. Shared immersive experiences can create employee engagement by making the work personal and learning experiential.
  4. Anywhere: The creators and developers to create content, avatars, clothing and experiences on the metaverse that have global appeal. Setting up virtual offices across every continent is infinitely easier. It will allow people to understand different cultures and the context of their colleagues.
  5. Endless variety of content: Roblox alone has 20 million experiences that can hold the users’ attention for 2 hours every day. From scuba diving to shopping, astronomy and superheroes, the variety of contexts can be used for meetings and brainstorming. Work and play must overlap. 
  6. Low Friction: Imagine you are watching a film and the video buffers. When that happens frequently during the film, it spoils the experience of watching the film. Reducing friction points can dramatically improve employee experiences. That encourages them to create seamless experiences for customers.
  7. Making money: In the metaverse, the players give their avatars fancy gear and superpower by using real money to buy these imaginary clothes and weapons. Allowing the employees to create different experiences for customers to turn each employee to be an evangelist. Customers trust brands where employees and customers work as evangelists.
  8. Trust and Civility: Building a world that is more inclusive and equitable needs every player to respect each other. It builds psychological safety and trust when employees respect each other. Civility in the workplace regardless of differences of our ideology can make workplaces seem fair where everyone is valued.

Here is the idea in the form of a #sketchnote

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In conclusion:

While all the principles of the metaverse may be hard to implement at once, it is easy to pick out a few principles to get started. Which one would you recommend to get started? Leave your views and comments below.

Republished with permission and originally published at Abhijit Bhaduri’s LinkedIn

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