Since Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of the social media giant’s corporate entity to Meta 12 months ago, the term ‘metaverse’ has become synonymous with the future of the internet.
Billed as a virtual world where we can live, work, travel and play, the metaverse concept is essentially a set of virtual spaces where you can speak, collaborate and explore with other people who aren’t physically in the same place as you.
While still in its infancy, many big businesses are attempting to position themselves for its arrival.
From Nike lodging patents to sell virtual versions of its sportswear, to Accenture claiming that the metaverse will “revolutionize nearly all aspects of life and business in the next decade”, it’s clear that the big end of town are fully invested in this new concept.
But what will this mean for job seekers, and will it change the way we look for our next career move?
Virtual reality (VR) job recruitment fairs are the future
Yahoo Finance spoke with technology employment expert Nicola Steel, founder of digital recruitment firm JJP Talent Solutions , to get her view on how the market is likely to adjust to the advent of the metaverse.
The first thing Steel is expecting to see in the near future is the introduction of virtual recruitment fairs, where potential job applicants could “take a tour of the office and meet potential colleagues in the metaverse. This will allow them to gain a better understanding of what it would be like to work for their future employer”, she said.
With the war for talent in the Australian labour market showing no signs of abating – unemployment figures remained at a historically low 3.5 per cent last month – employers are now likely to innovate more than ever to attract key staff.
Giving a virtual experience of what it would be like to work for their organisation could be one way of differentiating themselves from the competition.
Virtual on-boarding is already here
It won’t just be in the selection process that companies will utilise the metaverse Steel said, with some companies already using it to on-board new employees.
“Auto parts manufacturer Hyundai Mobis is currently using the metaverse to introduce and train new employees,” she said.
Although it’s likely the Hyundai Modis are ahead of the field in their adoption of virtual onboarding processes, other companies are likely to follow suit.
To facilitate this trend, Meta is starting to promote their own metaverse for work solution on Facebook, as they look to capitalise on the move to virtual working by giving companies the tools to make it happen.
These tools include VR headsets to allow you (or your avatar) to interact with co-workers in a virtual setting, and virtual workrooms to conduct meetings with others (also avatars).
It might seem futuristic, but the latter is merely an extension of the Zoom phenomenon that most of us adopted since the Covid pandemic started.
The difference is that it you won't be communicating directly, but via a digital representation of you (that you likely designed).
When will the metaverse come to the workplace?
So, when should the majority of Aussies expect to see this concept in their own workplaces?
According to Steel, it may be sooner than you think.
“The pace of change in tech is rapid, I would expect these changes to happen by the end of this decade, if not sooner. For example, the Dubai government has already announced they will create more than 40,000 virtual jobs related to the metaverse by 2030,“ she said.
This revolutionary change is undoubtedly going to take time to adjust to, so is there any advice for jobseekers and employees to help navigate this shift?
“Your reputation in the metaverse will be just as important as it is in real life. When you interact with people in the metaverse, always treat them with kindness and respect. The metaverse will be a great place to network and create new career opportunities so you don't want to damage your brand or reputation,” Steel said.
Communication in the met averse will need to be moderated to the audience in the same way social media interaction is moderated.
The shift to hybrid and remote working that has eventuated due to the pandemic has undoubtedly set the scene for this new iteration of working, and jobseekers should embrace this to maximise its benefits.
Just don’t be surprised if, in the coming years, your new employer mails you a VR headset and asks you to create your own avatar on day one.