An office in a tropical rain forest; a conference on the beach; or a meeting on Mount Everest. What sounded like digital pipedreams just a few years ago could soon become the new normal in the working world. The tech competitors Microsoft and Meta are driving the expansion of the Metaverse faster and faster, with far-reaching consequences for the future of that working world. And PR.
HYBRID AND VIRTUAL: THE WORKING WORLD IS GETTING READY FOR A NEW AGE
The idea of digital parallel universes is not new. Whether Second Life, Metaverse, or Decentraland: Many of them are under construction, already exist, or are constantly being improved. In a representative study by OMD Germany, 11% of those questioned stated that they already use the virtual worlds for themselves. Most of the users are still to be found among young, tech-savvy men. But even beyond this target group, the study predicts astonishingly great opportunities for the Metaverse in Germany: 61% of the study participants can imagine an active usage in the future.
The upsurge in remote working caused by the pandemic has sharpened the focus on innovative forms of hybrid work. There is already great mobility among workers. You work from home, from co-working areas, or from elsewhere in Europe. Many have developed a taste for working remotely and claim they benefit from a better work-life balance. According to surveys by the software manufacturer Slack, more than two-thirds of office workers want to work hybrid or completely remotely in the future. Acceptance of the new work models is even increasing among employers. Less absenteeism due to illness, higher productivity and motivation; and last but not least, the additional technical possibilities lead to better results in many cases. Most notably those that facilitate digital organization and teamwork.
MICROSOFT AND META: TECH GIANT PIONEERS OF THE METAVERSE
The current development is receiving an additional boost by the progress of the Metaverse. Because the virtual universe could increasingly become the crucial interface for organizing knowledge, social interaction, creativity and everyday work, transcending physical distances ever more efficiently. Microsoft is in the process of creating a walkable Internet based on its Platform Teams, in which over 250 million users can live, play and work as avatars. In renaming his company as Meta, Mark Zuckerberg has also made it more than clear where he sees the future of social media. The main technical challenges include observers, pending improvements in graphics, and increased internet speeds on the way to 5G. But overcoming these hurdles seems only a matter of time. According to the Digital Report 2022 by the agency We Are Social, the average Internet speed in Germany has increased by more than 50% over the last year alone.
POTENTIAL FOR CLIMATE PROTECTION AND PR: THE WORLD ON THE THRESHOLD OF THE METAVERSE
The advent of hybrid work in virtuality does away with the classic 9-to-5 mind-set and instead opens up infinitely more digital spaces in which people can network worldwide. Meetings and live events with customers, journalists and partners in virtual environments will enrich the PR and public relations work of companies with new design options. At the same time, costs, time and resources are reduced. As well as noise and climate emissions. Effects that clearly have a positive effect on overcoming societal challenges such as climate change. The global work and knowledge society is on the starting blocks of the Metaverse and is thus facing a fundamental digital change from which PR, too, will benefit in the long term.