“Who made this space, it’s awesome?” asked Mark Zuckerburg when relaunching Facebook as Meta. He invited us to a world with “an incredibly inspiring view, of whatever you find most beautiful.”
So long as it’s made by Meta. But what does this have to do with work, isn’t the metaverse a place to hang-out and socialise? As Zuck himself remarks when talking about avatars, “you’ll probably have a photo realistic one for work.”
Meta is not just a place to catch up with friends and family, soon our careers may develop in a virtual environment.
A few weeks ago we ‘hosted’ an Instagram live cook-a-long to celebrate Burns Night. I made Vegan Haggis, joined by colleagues and external guests. During our preparation we had to ask all those taking part to follow the Harvey Nash UK and Ireland account.
Not everyone is necessarily comfortable doing that. It’s an ironic quirk that millennials have large, messy social footprints, whilst digital-native Gen-Z employees are far more discreet about who they share their digital profile with.
This might present a problem for Meta.
Meta and Apple are in the middle of long-standing row over ad-tracking. The legacy Facebook business model is based on harvesting data on users and then selling that data to marketing firms. Since 2019 Zuck has talked about Facebook developing their own OS so they can ditch Android. The argument with Apple is only likely to accelerate those plans.
You can assume Meta’s offering will be built on their own platform, one that allows the company to harvest data and secure the long term revenue of the business. But this is work. Will users welcome the idea of integrating their social media presence(even if you don’t use Facebook, don’t forget Instagram is part of the Metauniverse) with their working lives in such an intrusive manner?
It also raises new concerns for organisations. If they expect employees to collaborate in virtual spaces, then the impact on an individual’s mental health and be ignored. Then there are legitimate security concerns given the level of personal data that would be potentially collected, Meta will have to demonstrate that data is secure and unhackable, and CISOs will have to have robust risk assessments.
The metaverse offers really exciting opportunities to entertainment, the arts, education and work. But without proper governance I think employees are well within their right to question if proper due diligence has been carried out, and what the unintentional consequences of an immersive team meeting might be.