Do augmented reality, the metaverse and virtual reality have a place in the future of work? A Meta survey of 2,000 employees and 400 business leaders in the UK and US indicates that the answer is a resounding yes.
Meta wrote in the introduction to his report, which was released on Monday: “After three tumultuous years, companies have learned invaluable lessons about how to operate and what their employees expect of them in a world of work. very different. From the new work models that their employees want to adopt, to the technologies and processes that will allow them to create engaged and productive teams, there is no turning back from the changes of the past few years. And from this new platform, companies are once again looking to the future and the ways work will continue to evolve, either through employee demand or technological innovation.
The company presented four predictions, with insights from MetaWorks VP Ryan Cairns, Meta VP of People Experience Brynn Harrington, Meta VP of Business Development Ash Jhaveri and Meta-reality labs vice president of sales Christine Trodelle.
With a third of the workforce moving away, companies need to redefine their understanding of what community and inclusion mean.
“We expect the sense of community to evolve for organizations as remote and hybrid working become ubiquitous,” Harrington said. “Over time, this will push companies to turn to more creative and innovative ways to engage their increasingly distributed hybrid teams to deliver the immersive and inclusive experiences they expect.”
Meta found that only 19% of employees responding to its survey believe video helps them feel more present in meetings, and only 15% believe it leads to greater collaboration with co-workers.
Among employees surveyed, 69% wish meetings were more immersive and engaging, while 66% believe the metaverse will help replicate the sense of unity that comes from being in the office and 68% believe organizations that create a real presence virtually will be able to create a sense of belonging in an increasingly hybrid world of work.
Harrington wrote, “After several years of lingering video conferencing fatigue and with an increasingly decentralized and disengaged workforce, the demand for a more immersive work experience using the power of VR headsets and the metaverse will continue to grow. grow. Companies will need to support both the overall employee community, as well as sub-communities that may feel marginalized due to remote or hybrid working. The metaverse can break down barriers to belonging by welcoming all employees everywhere as equals. I think the metaverse will be especially critical for engaging and retaining introverts, who are more likely to want to work remotely and enjoy the convenience of using an avatar to interact with teammates.
Companies will start investing in VR headsets rather than laptop upgrades, in response to employee demand.
Cairns wrote: “Forward-thinking companies looking to make work more accessible and inclusive will begin to divert hardware capital traditionally reserved for laptops, desktops and landlines to new, more innovative devices, such as VR headsets.
Meta found that 60% of employees want to see VR headsets introduced to their workforce by 2024, and 62% want to leverage VR spaces with digital avatars for collaboration.
“Once companies start using these devices in increasingly creative ways – from HR teams hosting more engaging onboarding and training sessions, to creatives able to work together on physical concepts or designs, wherever they are – they will quickly go from being a nice-to-have essential, especially for new talent.
The company found that 40% of employees want to use workplace technology that works smoothly and helps them onboard new colleagues, while 62% are enthusiastic about using interactive digital training tools in part of their work and 41% want to adopt virtual spaces. offices in their professional life.
“Virtual and mixed reality technology has limitless applications for collaboration, many of which will continue to surprise us in the future,” Cairns wrote. “And many organizations and individuals are constantly working to make innovation more flexible, equitable and practical. So, as these devices continue to mature, user experiences will become smoother, more immersive, and more realistic. And as more employees, teams, and even entire companies transition to these new tools, the undeniable benefits will inspire even the most cautious companies to experiment and adopt, or fall behind.
Traditionally competitive brands will increasingly work together to meet the growing need for immersive and interoperable services.
“Soon, we will live in a world where workers have greater access to knowledge, peers and opportunities no matter where they live, what their job is or where they work from,” Jhaveri wrote. “This vision will require technology companies to work closely together to ensure the right capabilities and experiences come together to deliver seamless, best-in-class experiences to employees, regardless of who created them or what device they use. “
Meta found that 74% of business leaders who participated in the survey spent some of their technology budget on augmented reality, metaverse, or virtual reality in the past year, while 80% plan to spend more on these technologies over the next two years.
Business leaders have allocated about $24 million on average, or 15% of their annual technology spend, to AR and VR investments.
“It will take a plethora of hardware and software solutions to create the truly collaborative environment that businesses and employees need the metaverse to become,” Jhaveri wrote. “And with this level of cross-collaboration at the vendor level, companies will no longer need to rely on countless point solutions like they have with every other iteration of the internet. If it comes to fruition, this vision will deliver endless productivity and collaboration benefits as their digital ecosystem works seamlessly across all platforms.
Companies that don’t think about the metaverse now will start to fall behind the competition.
“It takes time to fully integrate new technologies into a company’s operations – training is needed to bring employees up to speed with new digital tools,” Trodella wrote. “What’s more, it also takes time for employees to familiarize themselves with innovations. As such, companies need to invest time and resources into training and adoption timelines, so that employees feel both confident and excited to take advantage of new opportunities. So, if properly approached and executed, companies can gain a significant advantage over their rivals. »
On the employee side, 70% expect the metaverse to allow companies to hire talent from around the world, while 66% believe it will encourage their employers to allow them to relocate and 76% would be delighted to integrate virtual worlds into their work. Lives.
Among business leaders, 64% already feel behind their competition when it comes to planning for the metaverse, while 54% cited the ability of augmented reality and virtual reality to help teams connect, engage and collaborate with each other among the three main cultural actors. benefit, and 59% believe emerging technologies will reduce business costs.
“As we move into the future, new talent will increasingly judge potential employers on their ability to deliver immersive experiences that support them and provide new capabilities – so getting it right early will be critical. “, wrote Trodella. “It doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling. For example, 76% believe that simulated experiences will help train employees at scale better than physical (in-person) training. Immersive training is simple and cost effective and delivers high impact and immediate value. It can therefore be a good starting point for companies that are not yet considering investing here. »
She continued, “Similarly, having an internal champion who not only understands the value of innovations like VR, but can also passionately champion its use within teams can also be a powerful way to start inspiring change. of mentality. And whether it’s increased productivity, more effective team meetings, or an increased sense of community through a greater sense of presence, 2023 could be the year companies start realizing the true potential of their investment.