We’ve all heard the claims. Virtual offices will be the new (new) normal. The metaverse will revolutionize teamwork. It’s the greatest thing in collaboration since the internet or the invention of talking.
These optimists see a future of work where remote teams come together in virtual worlds for hours a day, brainstorming big ideas or presenting the latest out-of-scope work by a beach or in outer space.
But Olivier Moingeon has a different take — some might even call it a hot one. He says, “Collaboration is not the best use of a metaverse experience.”
Moingeon is an expert in designing for virtual spaces. After 18 years in the luxury industry working with brands like Cartier and Goyard, he dove laptop-first into VR technology, co-founding Exclusible, a brand that specializes in building immersive browser-based experiences for business.
Over the years, Moingeon has learned the strengths and weaknesses of these worlds. You can probably guess which category he thinks collaboration lands in. “It’s really not good for working on a task together. It’s hard to beat Zoom where you can share your screen,” he claims.
So how does Moingeon think we can design metaverse experiences to make them a valuable business tool? What does he believe companies should actually use it for?
Pop quiz: How many people in the world actively play video games? Did you guess 3.09 billion? If so, ding, ding - you’re a winner.
With nearly half of the global population being part of this group, it’s no wonder Moingeon believes gamifying employee experiences will become one of the biggest use cases for the metaverse. “In the era of entertainment and attention, gamifying a relationship is kind of the natural evolution,” he argues.
This can come in the form of quests, scavenger hunts, or even virtual reality escape rooms (no, taking off your Meta Quest headset doesn’t count as beating the escape room), allowing teams to work together in exciting new ways. Plus, everyone from Lima to Lillehammer can join in the fun.
All of this adds up to a critical impact on culture. Moingeon says: “You can build that internal community where employees can hang out — even though they are in different geographies and different time zones. All of this is made possible through the gamification of the digital experience.”
Coty executed this to near perfection when they launched their Coty Campus. With the help of Exclusible and design partner Polycount, they created a gamified digital space to improve employee’s experiences at work, like more exciting places to talk shop or hang out.
The result was a more connected, more productive workforce. It goes to show: When used to its full potential, gamification can be a real, wait for it, game-changer.
Making company events more fun and immersive
Think about the last time you actually wanted to attend a company event. Was it recently? Was it never?
Let’s be honest, planning events worth going to is not everyone’s expertise. But Moingeon recalled an example from his years in luxury that has influenced the way he approaches them. “There was a Louis Vuitton fashion show that turned into a Pharrell Williams concert, so it was an entertainment experience much more than anything else. The whole luxury industry was going that way,” he remembers.
After seeing that, Moingeon became a firm believer that entertainment should be the number one priority for internal events, especially as younger generations make up more of the workforce — whether it’s Millennials, Gen Z, or even Gen Alpha once they grow out of their Bluey phase.
And now, the metaverse is providing new ways to uplevel the party, from pool-side town halls to streamed concerts in virtual theaters. Businesses need to take advantage of that, or they’ll be left with a group of unengaged participants. “That’s what the younger generations want,” he insists. “They want to be entertained.”
But even beyond entertainment, these events can serve as a great place to foster learning and community (there’s that word again). Moingeon laid out a heartwarming example his team worked on for Deloitte. “We worked in partnership with an association fighting endometriosis, so they wanted to use virtual reality as a safe space for people to learn about it. There was also a community hub so people could hang out and talk to each other about this experience they’re all sharing.
This is a healthy take on how immersive technology can be used. But it’s easy to imagine how businesses could also create virtual experiences to educate employees on products or develop a sub-community within their teams, such as a group dedicated to DE&I.
Using the metaverse for training and education
Moingeon finds he’s spending more of his time thinking about training and education. “We’re starting to get away from the really flat and traditional training programs that companies have been implementing for years,” he says. “Now, it's about using new technology to create a more interesting relationship with workers.”
Gone are the days of skipping through poorly animated videos with monotonous voiceovers as fast as possible. With virtual reality, every training is a hands-on lesson where employees can practice real-world scenarios without real-world risks. It can be forklift training. It can be surgery training. It can be entitled customer training. Almost anything you could want to teach can be taught with VR technology.
Right now, Moingeon and the Exclusible team are working to bring more benefits to these modules beyond the experiences themselves. “We're thinking of certifying training through NFTs. These are tokens that can’t be traded or sold or exchanged, so they’re a great way to validate its completion,” he explains.
Yes, NFTs are somewhat controversial, but when applied in this context they can become a valuable asset for companies looking to ensure employees complete their assignments. It’s a surprisingly unique business use case for them.
All of this combines to make learning more effective, more engaging, and most importantly, more accessible. As Moingeon points out: “You can do it alone. You can do it on your own time. It's open 24/7. And it's available in most geographies.”
Metaverse insights that are out of sight
Businesses have found that experimenting with virtual worlds internally can give them critical insights into how the public will react. “There's a very strong insight-gathering element in terms of learning what works and what doesn't from employees. They’re testing different features and modules within VR, and they will know what catches people's attention with a lot more certainty,” Moingeon elaborated.
He says getting information from these exclusive first-access members is valuable because it will make producing public VR projects more effective and more efficient. It saves time. It saves money. It saves late nights figuring out if Option A will perform ever so slightly better than Option B.
And possibly best of all, it keeps any mistakes hidden from the judgmental eyes of the outside world. “It's a great way to de-risk your entry into VR because it’s not public.” Moingeon says. “It stays within the family since it's only accessible with an employee email address.”
While Moingeon is just one voice in this massive world of the metaverse, his words of wisdom can help businesses learn valuable lessons. Use the technology but use it wisely. Take advantage of its strengths. And do it for real business benefits, not for the optics of looking cool in front of your competitors.
It really is as simple as that.
Collaboration and improving digital experiences is a big part of what we offer at Meta for Work. Check out our work solutions for VR meetings and collaboration. Here you’ll find insights on the ways VR technology can transform your workplace into a community.