What’s better for your business: Metaverse or Physical Office?

Incoming Digitalisation: Should businesses pick Metaverse Virtual Office Space over a Physical Office Space? By Jamie Robotkin, below, Founder and Director, Prime Office Search

The digitalisation of the workplace is well underway. Dramatic changes in how we interact with technology look set to impact our work. And we are not talking about cloud computing, working in flexible workspaces or more virtual meetings between remote workers. Instead, trends in digital technology are integrating digital and physical workspaces and transforming office space.

Of course, the workplace of 2023 already looks different than it was a few years ago. Now, the metaverse promises to do away with the traditional physical office and revolutionise workspaces. This digitalisation could change how we collaborate, communicate, and interact with colleagues.

Imagine a corporate world where you discuss ideas with AI-enabled colleagues, have business meetings in beach locations, or acquire new skills through augmented reality (AR). These are some of the ways that the metaverse could reinvent the typical office in a virtual world.

But is the metaverse the answer to hybrid workplaces and remote work models? Furthermore, is everything the metaverse promises beneficial to all businesses? For example, are there advantages of physical office space over a virtual office space in a metaverse? This article aims to answer these questions and more.

What Is a Metaverse?

The metaverse is a broad term referring to using technology to interact virtually. Metaverse users can create avatars of themselves in an online space and interact virtually with others. Interaction in the metaverse occurs through virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality headsets. It means “going to work” in a metaverse workplace would involve putting on a headset.

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What Is a Virtual Office?

A virtual office is a service offering a business and its remote employees a workspace to work remotely. A virtual usually comprises a physical business address, mail service and phone answering services – like a traditional office. However, collaboration with employees is typically 100 per cent online through cloud-based applications.

How Does a Virtual Office Fit into the Metaverse?

The metaverse and virtual office are connected but are not one and the same. In the metaverse, virtual spaces are created. Some say that, in time, virtual offices could be built that companies could buy or rent. However, a virtual office environment would be essential for communicating, collaborating, and interacting with clients and colleagues.

What Are the Benefits of Metaverse Virtual Office?

Are there benefits to working in a cloud-based, immersive space where your avatar interacts with your avatar colleagues? From one standpoint, reducing costs by eliminating the need for physical locations could be beneficial. However, others point out that virtual workplace software could be used to analyse employees too much and result in isolation.

Some of the benefits of a metaverse virtual office that analysts point to include the following:

  • Increased training opportunities
  • Fewer operational costs
  • Increase the number and frequency of interactions between colleagues
  • A three-dimensional workspace has endless possibilities

Expert Projections for Metaverse

According to companies interested in advancing metaverse concepts, the virtual metaverse office will not be with us until 2027 and 2032. And the benefits of the metaverse and how it will work in a corporate environment are only speculation. So, what are the predictions for the metaverse and virtual workplaces?

According to some figures, the metaverse gaming market is set to increase in value by 38 per cent from 2022 until 2027. This means the market will grow to be worth $710.21 billion in the space of five years. Additionally, it is estimated that by 2024, 26 million VR and AR headsets will be sold annually.

Therefore, it seems that the metaverse is here to stay, and there is tremendous scope for growth in the gaming industry. However, it remains to be seen if the same growth level will occur with businesses.

What is a Physical Office?

A physical office is a space in a brick-and-mortar building where employees go to work. The office could be a permanent space like a large company’s headquarters. Or it could be a flexible workspace in a serviced office unit. One advantage of a physical office is that it helps put a line between work and life. In case you’re wondering how to find physical offices to rent you can easily do that by using various office search websites and apps.

How Does Traditional Office Space Fit into the Reality-Verse?

Advances in technology and the quest for digitalisation don’t mean that traditional office spaces will become irrelevant. In fact, VR and AR can have vital roles to play in enhancing employee experience in physical environments. And many employees do not want to spend all their working time at home.

Therefore, a physical office – whether a flexible workspace, shared office, or large office building – will always be a vital part of a successful team.

For example, VR technology could enable businesses to hold effective meetings with remote employees. Or augmented reality could assist in employee training and upskilling.

What types of Physical Offices are Available?

The cost of maintaining a physical office can be a financial burden for some businesses. That is why many large and small companies use serviced offices that provide flexible workspaces. This type of physical office retains the benefits of physical collaboration without increasing costs.

Despite advances in digitalisation, there is tremendous growth in the serviced office market. For example, reports show that the industry is expected to have a CAGR of 17.8% and reach $64.06 billion by 2026.

What are the Benefits of Physical Office Space?

During the pandemic, when everyone was working from home, analysts were quick to predict the demise of the office. Many thought that no one would want to return to the office. However, the reality turned out to be different. Workers were keen to return to the office, albeit in a hybrid format.

What are the benefits of working in a physical office? How can an office in the metaverse never compete with a physical one? Here are a few examples:

  • A physical location gives companies brand presence.
  • Better face-to-face communication and collaboration.
  • Innovation is easier in a physical environment.
  • Meetings do not rely solely on internet speed and connections.
  • A physical office provides better bonding experiences and team building between colleagues.

Can Metaverse Virtual Office and a Physical Office Co-Exist?

A physical office and a metaverse virtual one can complement one another. Despite the speculation on the impact of the metaverse, immersive technologies will not completely replace a physical office. Many businesses will still need a physical location for colleagues to get together. However, digitisation and virtual and augmented realities will help bridge the gap between remote and physical.

To Digitalise or Not to Digitalise?

Successful businesses continue to rely on new technology to grow and retain their market share. Therefore, it’s inevitable that digitalisation will continue to play an important role in every sector. However, despite the impact of new technologies, physical spaces will continue to be necessary. These could be collaboration hubs, flexible workspaces, virtual offices, or serviced offices. This is because physical offices provide benefits that metaverse companies can never compete with.

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