- The continued postponement of a post-pandemic global reopening means some form of virtual work is likely to be long term.
- The metaverse can provide benefits to businesses and workers, enabling collaboration in a stimulating 3D environment.
- To deliver its potential, the metaverse must be inclusive from the start, drawing on the experience of players in the field and cutting-edge sectors.
After global anticipation of a grand post-pandemic reopening, a new variant of COVID-19 has effectively put those plans on hold in many countries; and most of us now are resigned to the permanence of some form of virtual work.
From our experience managing workplaces of over six million users, DXC Technology knows that many workers feel torn between the freedom and flexibility of remote work and the desire to reconnect with colleagues and client. A Microsoft Work Trend Index study from March strong points this dichotomy. More than 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while more than 65% want to spend more time in person with their teams. The evolution of immersive virtual technologies could now allow organizations to offer their employees the best of both worlds.
Earlier versions of virtual worlds, such as Second Life, may have looked more like a diversion or a novelty, but millions of workers are already meeting colleagues in virtual spaces provided by Microsoft, Meta, Virbela and others. Buoyed by the pandemic, tech companies are now looking to transform virtual workspaces into a “metaverse” of social and business interactions in a stimulating 3D environment. The potential for improving collaborative equity is significant.
Building the Metaverse, Responsibly
As we build these virtual worlds, we need to do three things: prioritize inclusivity, learn from grassroots innovation, and embrace collaboration.
1. Inclusive from the start
We need to make sure that inclusivity is the starting point and not a metaverse afterthought. While we don’t have all the answers, at DXC Technology we are actively using virtual world technologies in light of our decision to transition to a “virtual first” model for our more than 130,000 employees in 70 countries. . This simple and clear policy means that today 99% of our global workforce is able to work from anywhere and, if necessary, access specially designed offices, depending on the better to their needs. We believe that the first virtual models are not only better for the environment but, above all, for the people who use them. Our experience shows that employees of virtual-first organizations, especially those with access to collaboration opportunities in the metaverse, are more productive, more engaged, and can participate in their communities in new ways.
Increased inclusion is also an inherent benefit of virtual environments where a person’s location, gender, physical attributes, or personal circumstances are less important than their ideas or the quality of their work. As a result, organizations will benefit from diverse new pools of talent from previously underrepresented groups. From mothers breastfeeding their babies to people with physical or psychological challenges, no one should be left out of a virtual workplace.
But for virtual environments to be truly inclusive, tech companies need to provide everyone with the tools and technologies they need to participate and feel represented. This layout isn’t just about giving people laptops and creating avatars that vary in appearance, but also addressing people’s physical challenges, like providing control interfaces for those who can’t use a conventional keyboard. These are issues that need to be resolved now as we lay the foundations of the metaverse.
2. Embrace local initiatives
One way to ensure that virtual environments fully represent the people who use them is to tap into the existing work of those who are innovating from the ground up. Such grassroots initiatives are instructive, highlighting the needs of those vulnerable to marginalization as the metaverse expands.
Dr. Peter Scott-Morgan, for example, leads a project to ensure accessibility to virtual environments. Since learning about his neurodegenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or motor neuron disease (MND), in 2017, the British-American scientist and inventor has fought back with technology and volunteered to become the “the world’s first human cyborg”.
At the heart of the initiative is a plan to create a Eye-controlled, AI-powered avatar of himself that will allow him to continue to play an active role in society. Dr. Scott-Morgan wants his avatar Peter 2.0 and other pioneering technology solutions he and his team are developing to bring hope to people with extreme disabilities and other difficult living conditions everywhere. DXC Technology is proud to work with its philanthropic foundation to help make that happen.
3. Collaborate to build the metaverse
No company, country or culture can build an equitable and inclusive metaverse. That’s why the global IT community must unite with the communities it serves to build open, secure, and trusted virtual environments.
We now have the opportunity to brainstorm and build the kind of metaverse we want, drawing on a wealth of experience, including the gaming industry, which has long empowered people to free themselves from the limitations they can encounter in the physical world.
Technology has a great track record for helping level the playing field in society, and the metaverse is the next chapter. If developed properly, it could help foster the global inclusiveness and exchange of ideas needed for the future.