The Race to Metaverse in the Modern Workplace

Since Facebook announced its rebrand to ‘Meta’ in October 2021, the metaverse has burst into the public consciousness. From Microsoft to Google, many juggernaut brands are now seeking to jump on the metaverse bandwagon.

As the big communication technology companies race one another to be the first to truly integrate the metaverse into their services, businesses around the world are eagerly waiting to see how it will transform their remote and hybrid workdays. But what exactly are the new developments on offer? Read on to learn more…

What is the metaverse?

In essence, the metaverse is a virtual world that takes the internet to the next level. Through a mixture of virtual reality, augmented reality and other technologies, users will be able to ‘live’ in the metaverse and enjoy many of the things they’d normally do in the real world within a virtual space – as well as having many exciting experiences that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. This could be a chat with friends around the world in a single virtual room or attending a virtual concert from the comfort of your own home.

Although it might seem like a brand new idea, the concept of the metaverse has actually been around for some time. The term ‘metaverse’ was first used in the 1992 sci-fi novel, ‘Snow Crash’, written by Neal Stephenson. Here, the metaverse was a virtual world visited by the novel’s protagonist. This type of virtual world has also been present in many online video games, including Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and Roblox. However, these virtual spaces were limited to the confines of the game world. The metaverse seeks to open out virtual worlds into our daily lives – and even our workplaces.

How are communication brands utilising the metaverse?

The metaverse poses a unique opportunity for communications companies. It’s set to revolutionize the entire way we use the internet. As it connects faraway places in unique ways, communication and collaboration services will naturally change to adapt. Customization will also be important in this virtual world – from custom avatars to backgrounds, there will be plenty for brands to capitalize on.

All of these reasons suggest why communication tech companies are so eager to make their mark in the metaverse sooner rather than later. So, what exactly are they offering?

Meta

Meta has its own metaverse workplace in the form of ‘Horizon Workrooms’. This collaborative program allows employees to work together in a virtual ‘room’ no matter where they are in the world. It’s currently available for the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. This mixed reality workroom gives you access to your keyboard and computer within the VR experience. Avatars and spatial audio enable more authentic conversations, letting employees feel like they’re really in a work environment. There are also virtual whiteboards and the option to join via video call.

Microsoft

Microsoft has also gone big with their metaverse developments. Microsoft Mesh is a program which will allow people to collaborate on projects together wherever they are, using holograms and virtual avatars. Microsoft has also announced Mesh for Teams, which includes avatars equipped with realistic facial expressions and gestures for your Teams meetings. Companies will also be able to create their own virtual spaces within the metaverse – whether that’s a virtual conference room or office space for collaborating. Mesh will be available on many devices, from VR headsets to mobile phones and tablets.

Cisco

Another communications tech giant that is making an entry into the metaverse is Cisco. They’ve developed holographic capabilities for their Webex video conferencing system, in a similar way to Microsoft Mesh. This will enable businesses to train employees more easily in a remote setting, as well as improving communication within remote meetings by mimicking the atmosphere of an in-person interaction.

Zoom

Zoom is introducing new changes to some of its features to incorporate the metaverse into its video conferencing program. Breakout rooms are getting the metaverse treatment, as these can now utilize Zoom apps for more interactive sessions. One app, Welo, features visuals of a working space, where staff can split off into different ‘rooms’ for collaboration and discussion, creating the feel of a workspace. Another feature, ‘collaboration mode’ enables co-creation and interaction on collaborative Zoom applications.

Google Meet

In contrast, Google has been relatively tame with its first foray into the metaverse. They’ve brought out a new series of immersive, animated backgrounds featuring weather, such as snow and rain. As well as these, there are also new light and color filters to adapt static backgrounds. At first glance, this might seem like an underwhelming offering, but in consideration of reports that Google is building the OS for an unknown AR device, this could simply be the company’s first tentative step into the metaverse.

How will the metaverse change communications in the workplace?

As the workplace turns meta, there’s no doubt that our ways of communicating will change. Many of us have now shifted into remote or hybrid working, and the metaverse will make whole new ways of remote communication and collaboration possible.

Corporate events and meetings will now be open to participants around the world, making it easier for staff to network. New options for providing immersive training to staff is possible through augmented reality. With holograms and virtual avatars, video conferencing will become more engaging and interactive than ever before.

All these elements will enable remote workers to feel the buzz and atmosphere of an in-person work environment, potentially subsiding employee isolation and improving productivity.

Communications for the workplace of the future

As the metaverse develops, the modern workplace must adapt with it. With many new opportunities for collaboration and interaction at their fingertips, organizations are excited to see how these new communication tools can unlock the potential of their businesses. However, transforming your communications model away from phone calls and in-person meetings to virtual rooms and augmented reality can be extremely daunting.

At Aura, we bring together technologies to create a truly integrated communications system for your organization. By working with leading providers to manage your communication needs, we provide one consistent service with a single point of contact. That way, developing a truly modern workplace provides no hassle for you, so you can focus on what you do best.

To learn more about our services, don’t hesitate to contact our expert team today.

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