The pandemic was one of the greatest challenges to management teams, businesses and organizations in modern history. Most traditional workspaces had no idea how to equip their teams for a hybrid professional environment or how to maintain culture, productivity and engagement or ensure accountability. As a result, some organizations used management tactics that were too heavy-handed, ultimately choking out its oxygen. Employees who once enjoyed their conventional workspaces were left feeling suffocated by leadership teams who clearly didn’t trust them so much after all. In some cases and in response to being placed under strict supervision, these employees defaulted to doing the bare minimum required in their role while they sought other positions.
On the opposite end of this spectrum were leadership teams that were far too lax in regard to employee performance standards. In turn, they eroded company culture by losing once-efficient teams to the digital fray. Stagnating in confusion, burnout and ambivalence, team members lost sight of company goals that once excited them and spurred them toward success.
Meanwhile, those of us who were practiced in establishing, maintaining and scaling remote company cultures understood that the survival of transitioning organizations would depend upon creating a stable, digital atmosphere and equipping leadership to support remote teams. I’m referring to the Metaverse workplace.
To those who have never experienced the Metaverse, its functions and equipment may be hard to conceptualize. You can liken it to a video game, except that as a work environment, it’s much more real. It is the primary place where a company accommodates its employees, holds meetings, trains new hires, provides everything from a coffee machine to a pool table, and in general does business. The way you turn up there is in your avatar form. Unlike Zoom calls or Google Meetings, the Metaverse gives people a sense of permanent presence in a digital space, continuing beyond the adjournment of a meeting or the conclusion of a conversation, surrounded by colleagues working through projects or celebrating achievements.
The Metaverse workplace is a true disrupter. It can alter your work culture for the better—enabling the transparency and teamwork that today’s fast-paced environments need and that employees demand. Here’s why:
1. Connection equals confidence.
Since the 2020 global pandemic, the landscape of our society has been marked by disconnection. Internationally, we have faced political upheaval, economic strife, war and shifting work modalities. A company’s ability to thrive has depended upon its ability to maintain its social structure after transitioning to a remote model.
Successful virtual companies understand that connection equals confidence. They offer meaningful ways for employees to interact with their colleagues and leaders at a distance. Indeed, the potential connectivity of a Metaverse model far surpasses that of the brick-and-mortar workplace because with the Metaverse, people are sharing with, learning from, and building strong interpersonal connections and relationships with others who aren’t just in the cubicles next them, but who may physically be located zip codes, miles, times zones or oceans away. They are people who might speak different languages, practices different religions, have different skin tones, preferences and identities, or who come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and professional customs. This diversity of background and of experience enriches a community of professionals who share one common bond – a commitment to their company, its success and each other.
Operating as an avatar in a digital environment requires a level of presence that feels physical. Unlike the video interface of Zoom, controlling the motions of a simulation and responding in real time is as interactive as an on-site experience. Avatars meet, shake hands, fist bump, stroll, sail and fly together.
This not only makes distanced professional environments more engaging, but it also establishes a (paradoxically) high level of humanity between colleagues. It might come as a surprise that meetings hosted on virtual tropical islands build trust—but the notion that work and play can coexist is essential when cultivating trust in professional settings.
When employees feel connected to their leaders and teammates in small ways, they will be more likely to be transparent with significant matters—presenting opportunities for more durable relationships in the workplace that foster a sense of safety.
2. Small talk makes a big impact.
Break room conversations can be immediate morale boosters: catching coworkers up on the family, contesting over fantasy football leagues, celebrating birthdays, and commemorating milestones are invaluable to company culture. Because watercooler gatherings have been a workplace staple for generations, businesses are reluctant to give up their physical offices—not understanding that the Metaverse makes for an even more dynamic break room experience.
Whether in the virtual mountains or in bustling digital cities, the Metaverse gives users the opportunity to connect anywhere imaginable. Companies that prioritize connection will find limitless ways to create their conversations virtually. These simulated get-togethers help employees feel like they are not isolated from the community.
In the Metaverse, the opportunities for small talk are endless and can help build authentic connections among employees who would otherwise remain disengaged. Trust and transparency are built in environments where colleagues can relax and interact informally, and the Metaverse excels at creating those moments.
3. Openness is not without governance.
Within every virtual organization, two things need to exist to foster a safe work environment: freedom and order. Though these two sound like opposites, in reality they work in tandem to keep employees safe. HR departments are better positioned than ever to track productivity, document time clock disparities, and monitor inappropriate work conversations.
Of course, micromanaging and invading employee chats without reason doesn’t yield a culture of trust and transparency. If anything, it breeds anxiety, contempt and disdain for the work at hand—and for the leadership that enforces such measures. I like to trust people to make their own judgment calls. I want to encourage transparency, not expose people just because we can. When stripped of their dignity, no person stays at a workplace for long. That level of trust depends on establishing transparent relationships with new hires from the start. After they’ve made it through a thorough vetting process that confirms their values align with those of the organization, there is good reason to expect they will not break your trust.
That said, the virtual frontier needs parameters for a healthy, stable environment. Every remote workspace should be intentional about creating a Code of Conduct and reviewing it regularly as it relates to employee relations and security.
Ultimately, the Metaverse provides a space that makes realness possible. The environment amply supports digital connections—even when teams are countries apart. Through virtual business meetings, boat rides, pirate ship explorations and conferences, we experience limitless ways to bond with teammates, collaborate on projects, evaluate best practices, and learn from industry leaders.
Through these interactions, we get to see the values of an organization lived out.