Will metaverse cultivate or kill company culture?
Despite Zuckerberg’s recent pivot on metaverse it’s clear that it will have a significant impact on the future of work; but what’s not been the subject of as much discussion is the technologies capacity to impact company culture.
So, at a recent MSL roundtable I hosted with industry leaders and subject matter experts we discussed the journey the technology has been on and the potential impact it could have going forwards.
For the last three years businesses have battled with how to maintain, build and enhance company culture in an ever-changing working world. For years nearly every industry, every brand, every employee worked to a similar rhythm and the pandemic challenged that. We’re now faced with an array of working models that are entirely subjective to leadership’s view on the value of flexibility.
What this has challenged is our understanding of what culture means in the context of our own businesses. For many culture is the product of physical interaction, those “water cooler” moments, the annual awards gala or the monthly town hall; but as Andy Dobson, Head of Creative Technology at Publicis POKE pointed out, much of the connection and collaboration these moments of social presence offer can all still exist within the metaverse.
The most basic examples being platforms like Slack, Teams and Miro; whilst they don’t fit the typical image of employees with VR goggles sat behind a laptop that the mention of metaverse usually conjures, they still create spaces for people, humans to come together.
A key issue that the roundtable discussion raised was how badly these technologies tend to be introduced into businesses. Have we really helped our people make the most of what Teams can offer? Or trained Managers to run virtual team meetings? Are they truly solving a problem that needs fixing? These technologies have been introduced off the back of pandemic but very little has been done to help employees maximise their usefulness. When, not if, businesses introduce more sophisticated metaverse technologies, onboarding is paramount to ensure the technologies succeed. Technology is only as good as the experience it’s designed for.
Roundtable participants questioned the technologies ability to recreate physical events, afterall we’ve all attended a conference that was re-imagined to be COVID friendly and sat half-listening and half replying to emails. John Monks, Co-Founder CURVE Consulting, pointed out that the failings here aren’t because of the technology itself but because of the lack of experience design.
You can’t just create a metaverse version of your office environment or your company’s social or a conference and expect people to turn-up in the same way; it needs to be designed as a digital experience, with creativity at its heart to ensure the most engaging experience for everyone.
The introduction of this technology needs to solve a real problem your employees are facing. Too often the tech is introduced purely as a reaction to it being available and not because the use case and user-journey has been scrutinised. This is absolutely key to adoption.
It’s clear that the technology has the ability to improve moments within the employee lifecycle; there is already evidence of it impacting training, recruitment, pre-boarding & onboarding but aside from the functional benefit what’s also evident is that if designed in the right way the metaverse has the ability to facilitate a far more inclusive culture. It can help eliminate proximity bias, open industries up to untapped talent and make work-based socialising more meaningful.
It really does have the power to enhance company culture if you follow a few simple guidelines:
- Ensure the technology is solving a key problem
- Don’t just recreate a physical experience online
- Onboarding the technology in the business is key
- Leaders need to be willing to embrace and advocate
For the roundtable participants the introduction of metaverse into our working lives felt like one step closer to creating a culture that’s not defined by the space or the place but by its people.