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The change of Facebook’s name to Meta came as a bit of a shock to the world. However, the keynote given by Mark Zuckerberg demonstrates that Facebook is expanding beyond a reality we can touch and feel.
This shift is bigger than what Facebook represents and hence, Meta was born. The potential of the metaverse is that we could build a world that allows each of us to express our best selves. Zuckerberg demonstrated what the world could look like using both virtual and augmented reality as a daily part of our human experience.
There are many parts of the metaverse worth exploring, but here are a few predictions of how it will change the way we work and drive a social evolution towards a more accepting society.
We will begin to express ourselves in new and exciting ways
We will start to see radical self-expression in these environments as people learn how to manipulate the virtual world around them using tools made for creators, by creators. If you don’t have time to create your own world, you can explore the worlds of others and even potentially use their creations as your own.
Every person will have a character that represents themselves in the Metaverse called an avatar. We will learn how to express pieces of ourselves through these avatars in ways that we may not have been able to test out before. Imagine the ability to try on different “skins” and how that might help you hold onto more confidence in the metaverse. The goal is that it will translate back into their real life. If you have more confidence in the metaverse with your custom-designed avatar, having more confidence in real life more easily becomes a by-product. This will open the door for each of us to express ourselves more deeply, and it will allow people to bring all of themselves to work.
As all types of avatars become accepted, I hope we as humans will be too.
We will become a more accepting and tolerant work culture
One of the biggest challenges of large-scale cultural acceptance is unconscious bias. Every single person has some form of unconscious bias that gets demonstrated through their actions at work. We’ve done a lot of work as a community to address this and more work needs to be done. However, in the metaverse I expect these unconscious biases to begin to fade away.
It will be much harder for -isms to co-exist in a metaverse where our projections are a mere fragment of who we are. The ability to switch avatars makes it difficult for these biases to hold as we will begin to understand that someone’s outer skin doesn’t reflect their full state of being. We can’t forget there’s still a human behind the avatar, after all. Imagine a world with radical acceptance as we start to celebrate the differences in our avatars that leads to more acceptance of our embodied selves.
Creators who have the skills to create some of the more robust environments and avatars will certainly lead the way in expanding the definition of what it means and looks like to be human in the metaverse. But ultimately, I imagine this convergence of technology and the real world will accelerate our ability to accept each other, as we are.
Work will feel like play
Imagine a day in the office where you teleport yourself to Shanghai for a meeting with your lead engineer, to the Poconos for a meeting with your boss and to an imagined Fairy Tale land for a meeting with a vendor partner. The ability to teleport ourselves to drastically different real and imagined worlds for meetings will add a creative flair to our day.
We’ll get to experience places we’ve never seen before while being completely immersed in the environment. We won’t just be looking at the place where the meeting is held. Instead, we will be living and experiencing it as if we are truly there. The pure creative power that will be available will help us all expand our imaginations.
Goodbye, boring conference rooms. Hello, collaboration destinations.
We will create our collaborative work environment
Work environments will take on a whole new meaning in the metaverse. There will be no limit to the environments we can create. There will be no barriers between environments as we can simply shift between them. Imagine a world where companies of all sizes can create a desirable employee experience on a level playing field. That will have a profound impact on working conditions and employee satisfaction.
We will invite people into our imagination
Imagine having the ability to invite someone into your imagination. What would you create for them?
The concept of inviting a co-worker over to your “house” will take on a new meaning as it will be more achievable than ever before and even more personal as it’s an environmental design. This may even push on some buttons for people who may feel the experience is too personal for them. Yet, imagine if this radical self-expression could bring us closer together.
We may experience dissonance between reality and the metaverse
Let’s face it, living in a world where I can have whatever I want, whenever I want it sounds like a dream. But it will also come with some downsides. Going from a Metaverse built around a real-time experience and then going back into reality where things tend to manifest slower will be a bit of a shock to the system. So much so that it could lead to people disconnecting from their real life in favor of the world they’ve created in the Metaverse. Or it could simply be disorienting to bounce back and forth between the two experiences. We are going to have to learn how to navigate both worlds at the same time.
Our mental health will be impacted
This could have both a positive and a negative impact on our mental health as we are living in two worlds: one we have created to our exact specification and one that responds to our desires in a much slower fashion. As with any new technology, we will need to be mindful about not disconnecting ourselves so much from our real life that it becomes difficult to navigate them at the same time. While having a meeting with my boss as a Klingon sounds fun, it also might be a little distracting or even offensive to some. There will need to be some community regulation as we learn to balance the lines between work and play.
Our virtual worlds will become augmented reality
You’ve seen augmented reality in the movies and on TV. It’s when there is a digital overlay to the human experience, providing both information and integrated real-life experiences.
It will be important for us to balance our experience of what Earth has to offer in the real world while we use technology to learn more about the world we have yet to experience. As our world changes with technology and we go into the metaverse, there is no question: Technology will be at the helm.
We will have to address new questions about the future of work because it’s not going to be remote — it’s going to be virtual. We’ll need policies that address the creation of collaborative work environments and avatars. We need ratings of experiences to understand how they are impacting people. And we’ll need moderation of the community to ensure everyone feels safe. We’ll have to discuss agreements on what is and isn’t acceptable at work in form or getting work done while having room for play.
The future of work is going to require a new kind of thinking and will require a new kind of leader. We will need leaders with strong values who understand how to build communities, not teams. We will need leaders with strong ethics who can answer tough questions we’ve never considered before. We need leaders who know how to disagree and come to a better solution as we will most certainly bump up against each other’s expectations. And we need leaders who care deeply about people and understand we are entering into a new kind of future for life, work and play.
We’re stepping into a future where technology is about to be overlaid onto our lives. Imagine that world versus the world we are in today.