This week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new name for the Facebook group and went into detail about his plans for the metaverse. Early in the 80-minute presentation, he entered into a virtual meeting room with some of his Meta colleagues to chat. Yes, it was all a bit cheesy but this part of virtual reality and what the metaverse can offer could solve one of the biggest problems right now.
Like many workers today, I’ve never actually met any of the people I work with. I’ve spent many hours chatting to them on Slack and in video calls but never face to face, in person. I live a long way from the office and in a different country to most of my team but even those within a short commute are in the same position due to lockdowns and office closures.
What we’ve missed in not having these physical interactions is debated but there is something about being able to sit around a table with your workmates. Despite this, we’ve got used to working from home and not everyone wants to give it up.
The answer right now is a sort of hybrid arrangement, where people spend some time in the office and some time working from home. However, maybe there’s another option...
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Horizon Worlds is Facebook’s, sorry, Meta’s virtual reality space for interaction – sort of like a Second Life in VR. In addition to this is Horizon Workrooms, a virtual meeting room where you can interact with your team.
The idea is that you can treat it much like a normal meeting room. You can bring in your computer and make presentations or take notes. Or just sit and discuss things with your colleagues or at least their avatars.
While it’s unlikely to be quite the same as meeting them in person, it could provide a more natural way to have a group chat than all staring at a Zoom screen. At the very least it could make those working from home days a little more interactive.
In time, I can see my whole work-from-home office being a virtual reality room. Why stare at a small laptop screen when with a VR headset on, you could be in front of multiple 50-inch screens. You could design your workspace exactly as you want it, while the only space you’re taking up is the chair you’re sitting in. It’s certainly more economical.
So while many have scoffed at Facebook’s plans for the metaverse, I’m optimistic that it will at least provide us with a better way to communicate with others across great distances.