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Meetings in the Metaverse could become reality for millions of UK workers in the near future after a new study found that hundreds of businesses are looking for, or building, office space in the virtual technology.
Research undertaken by Regus, part of the world’s largest flexible workspace group IWG, found that two thirds (66%) of business leaders view the Metaverse as the natural progression for hybrid working, and that half (48%) are exploring office space within the online world for their employees.
Enabling workers in different locations to interact via 3D avatars, bosses believe the Metaverse will have a significant impact on the way we work. 70% expect it to increase demand for flexible working, as it will reduce the need for staff to work from the same office location.
Business leaders also believe that the flexibility offered by the Metaverse will bring a host of other benefits, including more diverse workplaces (62%), improved mental health (57%), reduced presenteeism (54%) and better relations between remove and office-based staff (54%). Seven in 10 (71%) also think it will present new business opportunities, welcome news amidst fears of a recession on the horizon.
But despite bosses’ enthusiasm for the Metaverse, there are fears among office workers that businesses will not be brave enough to take the plunge on the new tech. Nearly two thirds (63%) think their employer will wait to see how other businesses fare before investing themselves, while less than half (46%) think their company will be an early adopter of the Metaverse. Just 6% think their business will adopt the tech in the next 12 months, with most (33%) expecting it take 3-4 years.
Employee enthusiasm for the tech to be adopted quickly is driven by its perceived benefits. Communication between team members (44%), teamwork (41%), remote working opportunities (40%) and creativity (39%) were identified by staff as the greatest advantages of working in the Metaverse.
When it comes to implementing the new tech, 56% of business leaders say shared office space will be key. 61% are so bullish on its prospects that they believe it will become crucial for communications between different company offices.
A separate study by Regus found that three times the number of FTSE 250 companies are looking to use a hybrid office model compared to those looking to carry on in the same way as pre-pandemic, suggesting that the appetite for working in the Metaverse will only increase. Regus’ parent company, IWG, has committed to opening 1,000 new spaces in 2022 to cater to this demand, with the majority set to open in rural and suburban locations
Mark Dixon, Regus Founder and CEO, said: “Change in the world of work is almost always driven by technology. In the 90s email transformed the way we did business, while during the pandemic we turned to video conferencing to enable more effective working.”
“This data shows that business leaders expect the Metaverse to have a similarly transformative effect on hybrid working. It will enable better collaboration for people working all over the world, reducing the need to commute and allowing greater flexibility in people’s day to day working schedules.”