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Companies are coworking in the metaverse to stave off Zoom burnout and spark new types of collaboration

Digiday 15 Sep 2021 04:01
The lead image shows people in hazmat suits having fun together in a rec room.
September 15, 2021 by Alexander Lee

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have adopted virtual communication tools to make up for in-person collaboration, but those channels have come with limitations: the nonverbal cues that make in-person meetings useful are difficult to discern on Zoom, and there’s no virtual replacement for water cooler conversations.

As the pandemic drags on, some firms are addressing these shortcomings by coworking in the metaverse.

It doesn’t help that Zoom burnout is real. Struggling to pick up on nonverbal communication, constantly having to look at oneself and conversing in immobile digital environments are all contributing factors to a national rise in “Zoom fatigue” over the past year, according to a February study by Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. “We can’t just open up new lines of communication organically in Zoom,” said Daniel Liebeskind, CEO of metaverse platform Topia. “It’s just not possible.”

Most metaverse platforms, such as Roblox and Minecraft, are designed primarily for fun, not work. But many of the builders of these virtual spaces have organically realized their potential for meeting or coworking. At Topia, Liebeskind and his colleagues started with Google Meet before transitioning to meetings in their own virtual spaces; in Rec Room, a cross-platform social application and metaverse space, employees can use the “maker pen” tool to prototype three-dimensional virtual objects. Employees at Stageverse, a 3D social metaverse platform, started playtesting their product earlier this year only to find themselves naturally socializing and congregating in it.

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StageverseStanford Universitys Virtual Human Interaction LabDaniel Liebeskindmetaverse platform TopiaLiebeskind
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