Will Your Next HR Meeting Happen in the Metaverse? Here’s What You Need to Know About Virtual Workspaces

With Facebook’s recent announcement that it’s all-in on the metaverse, it might only be a matter of time before virtual reality technologies go mainstream and play a greater role in our work life.
Will Your Next HR Meeting Happen in the Metaverse
  • »
  • All Posts
  • »
  • Will Your Next HR Meeting Happen in the Metaverse? Here’s What You Need to Know About Virtual Workspaces
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

:rolled_up_newspaper: Get Our Weekly HR News Flash:zap:

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated our virtual world of work. For many, in-person gatherings turned into video call-only meetings overnight. Tools and platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Workplace from Facebook became mission-critical to collaborating with teammates and getting work done. 

Now, some companies like Meta (née Facebook) and Microsoft are taking work to the metaverse. That is, they plan to create the platforms and tools for organizations to operate in a virtual workspace—for employees to go beyond two-dimensional Zoom calls and interact with colleagues in three-dimensions via an avatar in a virtual environment. 

If you missed CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s formal announcement last week, you might be staring at your screen wondering what in the real world we’re talking about (hint: peep the announcement, below). 

If you didn’t miss it, but still aren’t sure how a virtual workspace would work—we feel you. We were curious, too. So we did some digging to find out what the metaverse might look like, and how we might soon be working in it. 

Here’s what we found. 

What Is a Virtual Workspace?

A virtual workspace is an online environment where employees communicate, collaborate, and/or work. Many are already familiar with two-dimensional virtual workspaces thanks to remote work. If not, think platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. 

While three-dimensional virtual workspaces are less common, some companies are aiming to make them the next wave of how we work. What’s the difference? Instead of seeing coworkers on a video-call grid, employees in a three-dimensional workspace would join them (with an avatar) in a virtual office. Many companies, including Meta, are calling this virtual place the metaverse (hence the name change—get it?). 

Within the metaverse, there will be places for people to socialize, shop, and work—the latter being where, for example, Facebook’s Horizons Workrooms comes in. Facebook has been using Workrooms internally for about nine months now. The technology allows up to 16 people (wearing special headsets) to work in a Workroom together in virtual reality (VR), while an additional 34 people can join via video. 

But Meta/Facebook is not the only gig in town. A number of companies have already made waves (i.e., investments) in building the metaverse. Gaming platform Roblox has shared its vision for a place where “people can come together within millions of 3D experiences to learn, work, play, create and socialize.”

Meanwhile, Epic Games (the company behind Fortnite) has raised $1 billion from investors to help with its plans for building the metaverse. 

Companies like Microsoft and chipmaker Nvidia have also expressed intent to build the metaverse.

“We think there’s going to be lots of companies building virtual worlds and environments in the metaverse, in the same way there’s been lots of companies doing things on the World Wide Web,” shared Richard Kerris, vice president of Nvidia’s Omniverse platform, in an interview with NPR.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Adopting a Virtual Workspace?

According to journalist Alex Heath, who joined a press briefing where Zuckerberg attended via avatar, there are some definite pros for working in a virtual workspace. 

In his piece for The Verge, Heath shared that “after spending over an hour in Workrooms, I can see its potential as a more immersive way to communicate with people who are physically apart.” 

He added, “I felt more present in Workrooms than I normally do in a traditional video conferencing setup like Zoom.”

As for the cons, many of us have already experienced what happens when a virtual environment goes dark. Earlier this fall, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger were down for six hours. While this was mostly disruptive to the majority who use those platforms for personal communication, the outage had major implications for the world of work, as well. 

Supplemental reading: What HR Can Learn From the Facebook Outage: 3 Key Takeaways

Namely, for people who work in the industries that rely on Facebook, et al. (such as marketing and public relations) and still others who use them to communicate with their colleagues at work (i.e., Workplace from Facebook). 

Of course, diversifying the tools your organization uses in a virtual workspace would help mitigate a problem like this from happening again. But there are other implications for a virtual world of work—especially with Facebook at the helm. 

In an interview with NPR, Victoria Petrock, an emerging technologies analyst, shared that she’s “concerned about Facebook trying to lead the way into a virtual world that could require even more personal data and offer greater potential for abuse and misinformation when it hasn’t fixed those problems in its current platforms.”

Who Is Using Virtual Reality at Work? Is It Right for Your Company?

We know Facebook is—obviously. But who else has joined the metaverse? For starters, Walmart. The company said it’s trained more than one million employees using VR this year. Verizon has also used VR to prepare its employees for dangerous workplace incidents, such as robberies. 

Professional sports teams in the NBA and NFL, as well as Olympic athletes, have also invested in VR technology to simulate competition and game-like scenarios. 

So, now for the bigger question: Is VR, and a virtual workspace in particular, right for your small business? 

Well, the answer if completely up to you, but here are a few things to consider: 

  • Do most of your employees work remotely, or in the same office? In other words, does most collaboration happen in-person, or virtually? If your company mostly works in a single HQ office, an investment in VR might not be right for you right now. 
  • If most of your collaboration happens virtually, is Zoom (or another video call platform) working for you? Maybe a more immersive meeting experience would yield better employee productivity. It’s something to consider. 
  • Are you ready to make a substantial technology investment? Right now, just the headsets needed to join Workrooms cost around $300. That’s no small chunk of change for a small business. 
  • Is VR what your employees want from their workplace experience? Maybe they do, maybe not. You won’t know until you ask them. 

VR Not for You? We Know a System That’s Grounded in the Real World

Hint: it’s us! 

At Eddy, we help busy HR professionals by taking administrative tasks off your plate, so you can focus on taking care of your employees—wherever they’re located. 

Want to keep up with the trends shaping the HR industry? Subscribe to get our weekly updates right to your inbox.

:rolled_up_newspaper: Get Our Weekly HR News Flash:zap:

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Keep the content coming!

Subscribe to keep getting HR and business tips and insights straight to your inbox. Don’t worry, we hate spam as much as anybody else.
Scroll to Top

Submit a Question