Meta versus work
Lucy Aylmer, Deputy Editor, discusses the potential impacts of the metaverse on the world of work
The Financial Times have coined metaverse as their word of the year. As such, it comes as no surprise that companies are increasingly using virtual reality (VR) to train and recruit staff. By emulating real-life working experiences through VR, the metaverse can assist companies in recruiting staff and crucially, determine which candidates are the best fit.
The job market is intensely competitive. Each year many undergraduates undergo job application processes which are lengthy, tiresome and in some cases quite limiting. It is difficult for employees to truly gauge someone’s personality and ability through written applications and algorithm-inspired psychometric tests. The metaverse can fill this gap.
Israeli technology company, Actiview have implemented a recruitment programme that uses VR to assess candidates. The VR simulation provides a controlled sensory experience to study how candidates respond to tasks. This data is then used to inform recruiters of their potential.
News headlines may enjoy arousing our attention with sci-fi induced fantasies, but the reality is that the foundations for the metaverse are already here and in motion
The metaverse can be used in wider working environments too. Already, Facebook – now rebranded as Meta, has pledged to become a “metaverse company” within the next five years. Mark Zuckerberg has boldly proclaimed that the metaverse is a natural evolution from the mobile internet.
Undoubtedly, there is a movement towards three-dimensional remote working. Indeed, Meta launched a virtual-reality meeting service, Horizon Workrooms, where employees congregate remotely and wear headsets as if they were physically attending an online virtual meeting.
Office spaces are becoming increasingly redundant with COVID-19 work from home orders. COVID-19 has encouraged working professionals to become more digitally literate. From remote desktop to countless Zoom meetings, work has become increasingly virtual, and employees have had to raise their digital game.
Companies are becoming more responsive to flexible working and there is a growing movement away from office culture. In June 2021, Consultancy firm, Deloitte announced that all 20,000 employees will be given the choice of when and where they work. The metaverse champions such agility. One can quite literally have a duvet day, every day.
Although, this approach to remote work is relatively tame in comparison to other companies that have already signed up to Zuckerberg’s metaverse. Apple, Microsoft and Nvidia amongst others are working on advanced VR gear to assimilate into the metaverse.
These ambitions are not so incredulous when you consider that much of our life is spent in digital spaces. From online shopping to social networking – the transition to the metaverse is already taking place. News headlines may enjoy arousing our attention with sci-fi induced fantasies, but the reality is that the foundations for the metaverse are already here and in motion.
The regulatory complications and ever growing concerns regarding user privacy and data collection have called ethics into question
Yet are we moving too fast? Policing big technology firms has been challenging to say the least. The regulatory complications and ever-growing concerns regarding user privacy and data collection have called ethics into question. The 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal heightened this abuse of power and broke public trust in Facebook. Recently, amid Facebook’s rebranding, ex-employee Frances Haugen accused the company of putting “profits over safety”.
Meta may well argue that they have listened to critics and strengthened their ethics. Zuckerberg claims that no single company will own the metaverse. Instead, multiple organisations, developers and grassroot creators will help build it. This could help refute their monopolistic image that has come under scrutiny.
However, much more needs to be achieved to overcome such entrenched issues. A successful launch of the metaverse into everyday working life will require improved data controls and market regulation to secure public favour if the metaverse is to become a reality.