With its 3D virtual universes, the metaverse is called to revisit remote collaboration by offering an engaging and engaging user experience. For the moment, the offer remains modest and the basic functionality.
Will the metaverse be able to recreate the social bond stretched by the generalization of teleworking? Alone in front of his screen, the collaborator connects the visios without favorable moments for informal exchanges between colleagues. The famous coffee break, essential for the cohesion of a collective, becomes a distant memory. By immersing the employee in a virtual universe, the metaverse promises a more engaging and user-friendly employee experience. Objective: to find online the sensation of specific presence of the physical world. By reproducing the glimpses of office life, it allows you to meet a colleague in a corridor before joining him in the meeting room.
Numerous HR use cases are already emerging in the metaverse, such as conducting a remote job interview, setting up an onboarding process (the recruit discovers their future work universe virtually recreated), conducting immersive training, or organizing team events. building. The collaborative dimension, on the other hand, seems to be still embryonic.
The market offer remains, in fact, emerging. If Meta unveiled its Horizon Workrooms solution this summer, Microsoft is playing for time. Introduced in November 2021, its Mesh offering for Teams is expected “in the course of 2022”. Meanwhile, it is pure, mostly American players such as Engage, Virbela, Engage or Glue who occupy the pitch. Their worlds are very similar, populated by avatars, which although “customized”, are similar to video game characters. At best, attendees’ faces are glued to these Sims-style silhouettes from passport photos. For more realism, we’ll have to wait for the integration of holographic technologies like the one Cisco is considering with its Webex Hologram solution.
A falling wow effect
As for the Horizon Workrooms avatars, they reproduce the gestures of their owners well, but Meta’s metaverse requires the use of a virtual reality headset for this. Equipment that can be prohibitive for cost reasons, at the company level, but also for user experience. Seasickness, loss of orientation in space … The immersive experience becomes physically demanding after half an hour. Meta offers to join a virtual reality meeting via a video call, but the experience obviously isn’t the same anymore.
In terms of functionality, the platforms mentioned above offer ready-to-use or customizable universes, consisting of rooms of different sizes, from the single office to the amphitheater and, of course, to the meeting room. Video streaming, whiteboard, screen sharing … Essential features for remote collaboration are present. For the manipulation of 3D objects (a use case highly anticipated by manufacturers), however, it will be necessary to wait for the integration of mixed reality technologies such as Microsoft’s HoloLens.
For Arnaud Rayrole, CEO of the Lecko company, the wow effect around the collaborative metaverse has already vanished. “Based on our customers’ feedback, this is clearly not their priority and the user experience is not as smooth as advertised. Of course, use cases are emerging especially in the field of events to organize, for example, seminars. On the other hand, holding recurring meetings in the metaverse still seems futuristic “, analyzes the consultant.
“Whatever we say, the metaverse will adapt to our daily professional life, through porosity with public uses in general”
According to him, the subject is mainly driven by big techs and does not correspond to the expectations of working in hybrid mode. “Leaders have a desire to improve social bonds, to reduce the distance between employees and this does not seem to imply collaboration in virtual universes”, weighs Arnaud Rayrole.
If the leitmotif of this period of return to school is energetic sobriety, the development of particularly hyper-energetic immersive universes also goes in the opposite direction of history. In the face of the growing cyber threat, data security does not appear to be a priority for platform publishers.
However, Arnaud Rayrole says he is curious and expectant. “Whatever we say, the metaverse will become part of our daily professional life, through porosity with general public uses. If a few years ago I had been told that animated GIFs would have appeared in corporate social networks, it would have seemed to me incongruous me. Same for the metaverse, it’s just a matter of time. You have to take an interest in the subject, experiment even if you don’t see immediate use cases “, analyzes the general manager of Lecko.
A 2D retrogaming universe
As a specialist in corporate social networks, Jamespot already offers his clients the opportunity to gradually increase their power in virtual universes. At the end of June, the French publisher launched Jamespot.land, its corporate metaverse. No need for additional hardware or software, its 2D interface, powered by the open source WorkAdventure rendering engine, works on any device.
The learning curve is particularly steep. In this universe that incorporates the look and codes of retrogaming, the arrows on the keyboard are enough to advance your avatar in the village, at the bar, in coworking spaces or in private offices. You meet a visitor, chat bubbles pop, walk into a meeting room and start a “video” session.
“It is a question, as with the coffee machine, of provoking fortuitous encounters between, for example, a system administrator and a marketing manager”
With this first version called to enrich himself, Alain Garnier, founding president of Jamespot, intends to “demystify the concept of metaverse that can convey negative projections with disembodied universes and the obligation to wear a virtual reality helmet”. Jamespot.land aims, on the contrary, to recreate the bond by offering a common space where employees meet.
By allowing people to wander from space to space, Jamespot also wanted to reconnect with the logic of informal encounters. “It is, like the coffee machine, to cause casual encounters between, for example, a system administrator and a marketing manager.” A company can appropriate space by choosing a base map that symbolizes its recess, Zen, nature or futurism.
In the coming months, Jamespot will enrich his metaverse with dynamic features like a Kanban board or screen sharing. The publisher will also open an Amphitheater space to organize events with external speakers. “Unlike Meta, we start by offering private and safe spaces before gradually opening up to the outside world”, concludes Alain Garnier.