If you’re a business owner or leader thinking about bashing the ‘metaverse’ button, you’re in luck.
New research seems to suggest that many workers are willing to embrace the concept, although they often can’t say why the metaverse at work should exist, how it will improve their working lives, or even exactly what it is.
A report (opens in new tab) released in late September 2022 claims that more than three-quarters (78%) of “business professionals” – presumably at all levels – want to “embrace the metaverse,” which is certainly a phrase normal people use.
The majority (71%) of respondents said they could see the metaverse being incorporated into their working lives, and 40% saw the metaverse replacing “static collaboration environments” – presumably Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or one of the others online collaboration tools that have become commonplace since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is despite Deepak Agarwal, project manager at GlobalData, admitting that “the Metaverse is still largely conceptual” after the latest report on the gigantic size of the metaverse market. It doesn’t exist yet, but the company says it has $23 billion in it.
To me, the metavers are multiple asterisked words at a time that I can’t write because I’m still in my probationary period. I hope Mark Zuckerberg Loses $71 Billion (opens in new tab) to a buggy junk that doesn’t bother anyone (opens in new tab) (even in his own company) will be a wake-up call for everyone else.
“Conceptually,” using the metaverse to sit at a virtual representation of your desk and basically perform any task with those ergonomic controllers sounds raunchy. And if I ever have to deal with my line manager for a long time as a Playmobil man, I’ll sell my earthly possessions and live in a cave. give him legs (opens in new tab) is not the point. Instead, it’s a condescending, exclusive dictation about all the functioning limbs you need to be “normal.”
Because the most compelling reason I’m tired of reading about the metaverse at work isn’t that it’s a boring, weird power fantasy, but that I won’t be able to participate in it anyway.
End of August 2022, The conversation published and article (opens in new tab) by three academic researchers in England discussing the potential benefits of the metaverse for people with disabilities.
Except that the article bases its arguments on a reductive view of disability that amounts to “wheelchair-bound”. That’s not my experience with a disability. I can walk, but I can’t even hold the controllers, so any virtual reality is a non-starter for me.
It also admits that virtual mobility (opens in new tab) – the idea that technology can give disabled people with limited physical mobility more freedom of choice and independence – is already being achieved through the internet.
I can agree with this. The internet allows me to earn my living, have a social life and absorb information and culture. It is literally the pinnacle of human existence, and so is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – where I can look on the internet whenever I want.
Computers have been around for so long that accessibility solutions – speech recognition, text to speech, on-screen keyboards, eye tracking, you name it – make working life accessible to just about anyone. Is it really progress if we tear all that up? That’s a rhetorical question, Mark.
Worse yet, we didn’t reinvent the internet once, but at least fourteen times (opens in new tab). Geekflare keeps increasing this number and I keep complaining that God is dead. You can’t expect accessibility standards to be applied to so many platforms.
We need the solutions that already exist, especially in a time of massive upheaval like – oh, the one we’re going through right now. As the latest from Microsoft Work Trend Index (opens in new tab) report believe, 85% of leaders do not trust their employees to be productive in a hybrid work environment.
That is of course nonsense. But I’ll tell you what – some of your disabled employees won’t be productive if you put them in an environment where they literally can’t work. And you’re going to fire them, aren’t you, because of “the future”? That should be an interesting day in court.
Forcing the metaverse into a work environment will deprive so many people of the right. If you really want to recreate Ready Player One or Snow Crash, that’s where you get it. Oh, you haven’t read them? Did you just think their Wikipedias were cool? Okay.
It is irresponsible to aim for “the metaverse at work” without considering these implications and ensuring that alternative work environments exist. And we have those environments, because a plague forced us to make – a-ha – progress.
And if your problem here in the MENSA meeting is, “Well, you can still dial in to” video conference”, which is a tacit admission that we have already erased this high bar of invention. It also ignores my staunch religious belief that contact with the metavers of any kind will make my heart explode.