One unexpected by-product of ‘work from home’ is a rising stock market and growing demand for freelance jobs. Not that I’m saying that it is right or wrong, but Covid-induced economic uncertainty makes people wander around. Even high-income earners who already make comfortable living sometimes have surprising part-time jobs from their spare time, saved from counterproductive long commutes, business trips and meeting schedules. Ironically, work from home means retaining more energy and people can do more work or even multitask with less distraction.
One of the big aspirations behind the metaverse is to contribute to the creator economy in a big way. Metaverse is a metaphysical universe where users can create and be anything they want. Many tech giants already have skin in the game and support more creators to socialize in the metaverse and help them make a living in their platforms. More paid online experience, subscription service and virtual merch sales would be massively prevalent in the coming years. It is no surprise to have 10,000+ creators who make serious money in the Roblox economy. There is a girl in her mid-20s who has sold over 1.3M+ virtual merch in Zepeto. Not to mention YouTube or TikTok madness, the creator economy is a global affair.
It is the year that we prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Many corporations and institutions rush into building inclusive and equitable cultures that honor all walks of life. DE&I need cross-organizational support from every level of organization. DE&I culture won’t build itself, though. Culture is like the glue that holds the organization together during the good and bad times. However, creating organizational culture during Covid-19 outbreak is not an easy task because human interaction has been significantly reduced. People get hired without meeting face-to-face and fired over Zoom.
There is no high table on Zoom. So, all delegates and attendees participate in a call together as equals. Remote work has leveled the playing field in many positive ways. Video conferences on Zoom have erased the boundaries. We get to see more junior associates in video meetings that they would have been excluded otherwise. When senior leadership is attending a meeting from his/her kitchen while pets are running around in the background, it helps employees make a stronger bond to their boss as a human being.
No one is perfect. Though, there are people who care and want to look better on Zoom. To them, lighting is critical. There is a chroma key background people can easily set up in Zoom. It is like a bit of real estate voyeurism as the natural background says a lot about who he/she is. People often dress up head-to-waist, not head-to-toe, in bright colors with business on top and pajamas on bottom. People try to find the nicest background or pick virtual wallpaper to look professional. It is natural for people to show their face on Zoom and boost their online presence for more human interaction. But sometimes it is too much. There is no place to hide when video is mandatory in Zoom.
However, the metaverse gives you freedom. You can be anything you want to be and create texture, background and ambiance as you wish. Plus, metaverse will represent a huge opportunity to amplify diversity and inclusion of varying voices. Seriously, who cares who you are and what you do when you come out in your own avatar inside a virtual world?
Metaverse platforms can attract diverse audiences irrespective of gender, age, race, or sexual orientation. Metaverse brings people together to create social connection and helps them better understand about each other without prejudice on the surface. One clear thing we’ve witnessed during the pandemic is that the metaverse could eliminate geographic and social bias. When people are looking around in the metaverse, everyone looks alike and there are no strings attached. There are also no limits for creative self-expression in the metaverse. They can be also compensated for their creative endeavor, not to mention NFTs (non-fungible tokens.)
We will see a major transformation in the world of work. Metaverse is supposed to be a playground, but it can be a productive workspace. Facebook has pledged to become a metaverse company in the recent announcement and accumulated AR/VR assets to build virtual platforms over years. Microsoft is also doing the same, but it intends to focus on the enterprise metaverse, rather than a social venue. We’re all talking about the metaverse with our own deep social affinity. Many commentators say that Facebook would also ultimately bring people together for work and Microsoft for fun.
Good news is that metaverse would pave the road for labor equality by tearing down borders, limitations, and norms between different worlds. In the real world, thanks to digital transformation, people can already choose to live outside cities but can still actively participate in the high value creator economy through digital labor no matter where they are and how they work. Online game industry is already sitting on a huge avatar economy, which I believe, a predecessor of the metaverse economy, where virtual goods are widely sold and traded in the secondary market. More consumers would shift their spending to virtual goods, services, and experiences in the coming years.
Technology, trade, and financial globalization has caused income inequality in the real world. There is already labor imbalance in the metaverse, too. For example, mining minerals in online games like StarCraft is nothing too new. People in low-income countries spend days and nights collecting digital items for sales inside or outside the game, so to speak. However, the value of digital labor will grow as the metaverse expands and it would create unparalleled opportunities.
Everyone can be treated fairly in the metaverse, and everyone seems to be on the same starting point. No one regulates the metaverse yet, but it will be architected and highly calibrated by the higher power to meet the ever-changing needs in the market. Can the metaverse create a different world by any chance? Will existing tech giants lead and dominate the metaverse or will another underdog hero emerge soon? We will see.