The metaverse seems more about entertainment than about helping workplaces foster tangible connections and do work, says Frameable’s Adam Riggs.
If your boss has ever asked you to don a VR headset and join a virtual meeting taking place in some kind of strange 3D office where your colleagues appear like cartoon avatars – commiserations, you’ve been sucked into the monster known as ‘The Metaverse’.
Most of us know how the metaverse hype started. It began in 2021 when Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook was going to rebrand itself as Meta in a bid to focus on AR and VR technologies.
Augmented reality and virtual reality tech can be fun; it enables gamers to have enhanced experiences from their couches. It’s also useful for adding a futuristic element to art exhibitions and it is even used by the Leinster rugby team to boost fan engagement.
But what about work? Zuckerberg wants the metaverse to function as a sort of catch-all space for people to live in – a kind of tech utopia in which we are all avatars. While that might work for gamers, the same principles shouldn’t be applied to workers. Each group has different needs, for one thing.
Putting on a headset to join a game in your downtime might sound like fun but would the novelty be the same if we had to wear one every Monday morning for a discussion about KPIs?
Gimmick or good thing?
It’s no surprise that while some companies have jumped on the metaverse trend, others are much less enthusiastic.
It proponents say the metaverse is good for onboarding, recruitment and meetings – particularly for distributed workforces.
But many think it’s a gimmick. One of these sceptics is Adam Riggs, CEO of Frameable, a company that has designed virtual workspaces for the likes of Amazon, HubSpot, Uber and Airbnb.
Granted, it is in Riggs’ interest to be sceptical of the metaverse given his own company is selling a product that competes with it, but his critique of what the metaverse represents for workers is nonetheless valid.
Riggs makes it clear to SiliconRepublic.com he is not against the metaverse, but he has reservations about how it is being deployed in professional contexts.
For starters, there’s the hardware aspect. Headsets are not cheap, and not every worker can afford to buy one.
“It just feels a bit too much like technology for technology’s sake. It’s not really clear what is the problem that it’s solving.”
He thinks using headsets to enhance connectivity for distributed workforces is misguided, instead VR and AR should be a kind of “virtual corollary” to the physical space a worker is in – no matter where they are, they should be able to easily meet with colleagues.
“I think that the problem with the current way that distributed work unfolds for most people, is that it’s much too deliberate.
“It requires too much typing and too much scheduling to have the meaningful interactions and the reality of an office is that an office is not a meeting,” he argues.</…….