The whispers regarding the metaverse as the future of work are getting louder.
Beyond gaming, just as many people want to use the metaverse for socializing as they do on-the-job training, a KPMG report suggests. KPMG categorized its survey-takers as current metaverse users, likely tech users, the undecided and unlikely metaverse users. Of the current users, 92% noted the value of connecting with friends and family. The same percentage also expressed their belief that the metaverse “can enhance learning opportunities, including job training, school, and higher education.”
Similarly, 91% of likely users said friend and family connections through the metaverse could be valuable; 89% of likely users also nodded to the metaverse as a tech that could potentially enhance their learning and development.
Most of the current, likely and even undecided users surveyed acknowledged that the metaverse “provides new business opportunities to meet and connect, or network.”
“U.S. adults are increasingly adapting to creating real life experiences across the ‘phygital’ world,” Cliff Justice, the KPMG Enterprise Innovation lead for the U.S., said in a Sept. 8 press release. The KPMG exec also implied that metaverse usage would track for current human behavior, noting that many aspects of everyday life “from banking and telemedicine, to learning and working,” are trending toward the virtual.
Most current, likely and undecided respondents were interested in using the technology for telehealth appointments, virtual tours of museums or historical sites and shopping. Ranked right after those options (and alongside streamed concerts and digital fashion shows) were virtual company meetings and L&D opportunities (65% and 65%, respectively.)
Earlier this year, Harvard Business Review chronicled avatar-based virtual reality platforms beyond Meta that are revolutionizing the workplace, like NextMeet, PixelMax, Microsoft (through a technology called HoloLens) and Metaverse Learning. The review also emphasized VR’s educational potential, as well as other facets of HR: serendipitous encounters in the (virtual) workplace akin to “bumping into” a colleague in the office, mystical well-being spaces, food delivery integration and “live status tracking.”
This emerging narrative around the metaverse and the future of work is interesting, given that some social critics remain skeptical about Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar universe, Meta — the best-known company in the space. Outlets on the gamer side and CNN have chronicled the lackluster quality and technological limitations of Meta’s graphics. The New York Times has continually dunked on Zuckerberg for what is framed as a lack of innovative follow-through, post-Meta-rebrand hype.
More specific to HR, chief people officers may need to consider the ways toxic facets of work culture can translate digitally. For one, sexual harassment in the metaverse continues to be a pervasive issue. Notably, this was on the radar of KPMG survey-takers, about a third (31%) of whom were worried.
Cost aside — Meta Quest 2 goggles are a $400 investment — HR professionals can also note the learning curve that comes with this L&D technology. Career experts have told HR Dive that generational differences in technology aptitude can be solved with “reverse mentoring.” This L&D model empowers younger employees to educate older employees — typically on tech use and progressive cultural issues — and can mitigate ageism.
As with all innovation and business, HR folks will have to weigh the pros and cons to ensure the metaverse is a good fit for their organization.