In 2021, global consulting firm Accenture turned to Virtual Reality (VR) to redefine the new joiner onboarding process as a more global, immersive, collaborative, and memorable VR experience. That year alone, more than 45,000 new employees across 29 countries shared a rich, consistent experience focused on human connection. This year that number will be closer to 150,000.


Whilst unfamiliar to many and still nascent in many respects, the metaverse and its enabling technologies have been around for over three decades, existing mostly as a collection of game-based online environments with little or no interoperability. However, as the global pandemic in 2020 and 2021 forced the world to adopt new ways of working and learning, the desire to create more authentic, cohesive ways of interacting and collaborating thrust 3D immersive solutions to the fore, offering a host of opportunities for a better experience in and out of the office, and the classroom.


Despite lacking a precise definition, there are several key features most experts believe must be present in the modern metaverse, as defined below.

The Metaverse:

An emergent networked online 3D space that seamlessly connects our physical and digital lives by providing interoperable digitally persistent environments that people inhabit, as avatars, to work, learn, socialise, relax, communicate, interact, transact, and own digital assets.

It is also necessary to understand what some of these, and other terms, mean within the context of the metaverse.

Avatar: A digital version, or expression, of ourselves, 

Digitally persistent: meaning that the digital environment is always-on and continues to exist, develop, and evolve even when you are not connected, 

Interoperable: the ability for different metaverse environments to communicate with one another for the effective exchange and process of information 

Digital twin: a virtual representation of a physical object, space or process.

Extended Reality (XR): an umbrella term covering the various technologies that enhance our experience of the immersive metaverse, including today’s leading technologies:

  1. Virtual Reality (VR): A fully immersive, digital environment accessed using a VR headset that shuts out the physical world (E.g. Oculus Quest). 
  2. Augmented Reality (AR): Adds a digital overlay to a live view typically accessed using a smartphone or camera (e.g. Pokemon Go). 

Mixed Reality (MR): An immersive experience where real-world spaces and objects interact with elements of AR and VR (e.g. Microsoft’s Hololens).

Six ways the metaverse will transform how we work

  1. Immersion over Connectivity

Consider how much we rely on constant connectivity—our smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, Alexas, cars, and even planes, without which many of us would be lost. But, in the metaverse, we won’t just be connected, we will be immersed in a data-rich, user-defined 3D world with a host of on-demand experiences at our fingertips. 

No longer will we need to schedule a time and dial into an online meeting; we will be able to teleport into shared digital spaces ranging from offices and conference rooms to our favourite local takeaway—where we can order delivery to our physical location. This ability to be fully immersed and present will fundamentally change how we engage with families, friends, colleagues, and communities.

  1. New ways of collaborating

The ways we meet, exchange ideas, innovate, collaborate and co-create will be reinvented. We can work synchronously or asynchronously where distributed teams can collaborate seamlessly across different time zones or disparate physical locations. 

Furthermore, the immersive metaverse can help address the isolation and disconnectedness that can result from hybrid, or remote, working and facilitate serendipitous encounters and spontaneous conversations that are only possible when people are present in the same place.

Even our work breaks can benefit, with the metaverse providing access to digital wellbeing spaces that can include interactive on-demand content such as meditation or exercise classes. 

3. Improved efficiency and productivity

The leadership author, John C Maxwell famously said, ‘Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward’. While most of us can understand the value of learning from failure, few want to put too much at risk. Leveraging the metaverse and digital twins for testing and experimentation can reap the benefits while mitigating the risks. For example, BMW was able to gain a 30% increase in production efficiency by running a six-month digital twin simulation before finalising their all-electric vehicle production line.

4. Acceleration of learning and skills acquisition

Mark Purdy of the Harvard Business Review believes the metaverse will revolutionise vocational training, quoting the example of a helicopter manufacturer who reduced vocational training times by more than 40% by issuing recruits with VR goggles that effectively gave them access to their own private helicopter for training.

In a nine-month study by PwC, selected groups of new managers took the same training in one of the three learning modalities: classroom, e-learn, or v-learn. The differing results were astounding, as shown in the graphic below: 


5. Field Operations & First Responders

Augmented and mixed reality will radically transform the ability of field and front-line workers. For example, a first responder attending to a technical emergency can use mixed reality to digitally overlay a virtual version of the piece of equipment in need of attention whilst simultaneously transmitting imagery of the actual equipment back to base, where other experts can assess the situation in real time and offer advice or support as required. Lessons learned can immediately be available to others or integrated into training programs and scenarios.

6. The eventual rise of the Metaverse economy

Like the internet before, the metaverse will bring about a new 3D immersive economy. While many early moves are being made by real-world businesses mimicking real-world commerce, the emergence of metaverse native enterprises, entirely conceived and developed within the 3D metaverse, is already happening, expanding well beyond in-game spending.

According to Bloomberg, the metaverse may be worth $800 billion by 2024 due to a surge in interest during the pandemic. That’s up from $47 billion in 2020.


All transformational change comes with risks, and the metaverse is no exception. From its reliance on cryptocurrency to the potential erosion of cultural and behavioural norms, the need for careful consideration and oversight is real. 

  • Power: The risk that the concentration of power sits with a small collection of big-tech players (think social media today).
  • Privacy: Collection, storage, and security of data—personal and business.
  • Infrastructure & Access: The strain on computing infrastructure, power requirements and the risk of an expanding digital divide. 
  • Social, behavioural, and moral considerations: Social disconnection, lack of human connection, reliance on avatars.
  • Crime: Unacceptable behaviours, including addiction, bullying, and harassment. 
  • Legal: How will organisations and individuals navigate legal compliance in a persistent, live, synchronous, interoperable digital environment?

The Metaverse Isn’t Waiting For You; Change Is Happening Now

The immersive metaverse is already here (just ask your kids).

In a world where almost 80% of consumers say their everyday lives and activities depend on technology, the transformational (and commercial) potential of the metaverse cannot be ignored. Despite the risks, the unknowns, the variables, and the barriers, it is time to stand up, take notice and start taking action.

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Tim Burrill
Membership Manager & Executive Assistant
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