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Jan 6, 2021
This article is part of a series called Remote Work.

Work from home has been shockingly successful, despite the drawbacks that most of us are now well aware of. In an earlier TLNT article, I covered some of the tools that companies are creating to address those known drawbacks. In essence, these tools are trying to bring some of the social and ad-hoc connections that occur in an office to the work from home environment.

However, we may be thinking too small if we see the future of remote work as being Zoom plus some extras. Perhaps we are on the verge of working from the metaverse.

Understanding the Metaverse

A metaverse is a familiar place in science fiction. It’s a rich three-dimensional virtual-reality world that many people visit simultaneously. Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) like World of Warcraft are almost a metaverse. Another example, Second Life, is not a game; it’s an online world to hang out in. It’s been successful enough to have been running for more than 15 years.

You are not going to move your business from an office to Second Life or World of Warcraft. However, these existing models, along with the visions one gets from science fiction, help us imagine the possibility of a virtual workplace that goes far beyond what we have today.

If employees are suited up with their VR goggles, then you can potentially simulate just about any aspect of a working environment, plus many more features that don’t exist in the real world. This is the reason why the metaverse may move out of the pages of sci-fi and into the world of the Fortune 500.

A metaverse potentially provides the advantages of working from home, captures the benefits of office work, and adds advantages no one has conceived of yet.

From WFH to WFM

The metaverse is not just a wild idea for three reasons:

  1. We have already made the move away from the office.
  2. A lot of metaverse technology already exists and is getting better all the time.
  3. We can move incrementally from where we are now to something increasingly metaverse-like; it need not be a big jump.

When we look at it this way, it seems that moving toward working from the metaverse will, in the long run, be a more important trend than a post-pandemic return to office work.

Remembering Mosaic and Netscape Navigator

If you’ve studied (or lived) the history of the world wide web, you might be familiar with early browsers like Mosaic and Netscape Navigator. These were mind-blowing at the time, but it’s worth taking the lesson from history that they were just the beginning. Rather than thinking that we’ve moved from the office to the home via video, perhaps we should recognize that we are on a nonstop conveyer of change.

In five years, it may not be a choice between office, home, or a hybrid of the two. It may be that all office workers will be in some kind of metaverse application, hopefully sporting some hip VR goggles and comfortable leisurewear. Let’s be ready to think big about the future, rather than long for the world of the past.

This article is part of a series called Remote Work.
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