Exploring the metaverse for internal communication

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The metaverse is on the verge of transitioning from a futuristic vision to a concrete reality. This shift promises to revolutionize the way companies communicate and collaborate. A pioneering research project of the University Leipzig by Larissa Benz explored various use cases and the willingness of employees to adopt metaverse applications. The findings indicate that communication leaders must act decisively if they want to position themselves as frontrunners in this emerging field.

Potentials envisioned by communicators

Ever since the beginning of the discourse surrounding the metaverse, the communication profession has been abuzz with discussions on its relevance and potential applications. At first glance, the possibilities for internal corporate communications appear vast: from virtual town hall meetings and team gatherings to a three-dimensional intranet. As the work environment evolves towards greater hybridity, the metaverse will offer a unique avenue to make corporate messaging more palpable, facilitate change, and forge stronger connections among employees globally. It could thus emerge as a key tool in transcending the boundaries between screens and enhancing personal involvement, which is now more crucial than ever.

« When it comes to interdisciplinary collaboration, I also think about having creative spaces or new meeting places where people can meet and work together on topics, where I don’t just put the ball pit and elaborately colorful furniture, but can also try out different scenarios »

Statement from a communication expert in a focus group

The metaverse presents exciting opportunities for enhancing all aspects of internal communication. The communication experts surveyed in the focus groups identified its most significant potential as fostering authentic social interaction in digital settings, thereby creating a robust sense of (social) presence.

The metaverse…

  • strengthens communal bonds, effectively conveys corporate culture and values, positively influences employee identification and dedication, and enhances the company’s public image.
  • boosts motivation strategies.
  • introduces innovative communication content methods.
  • revolutionizes content distribution, personalizing messages and delivering them to specific internal groups via new devices and technologies.
  • enables better internal orientation through virtual collaboration platforms, cross-organizational knowledge management, and employee empowerment initiatives in digital realms.

Use cases for internal communication

Leveraging its vast potential, the metaverse unfolds a plethora of use cases for internal communication. Social interactions could be enhanced through the creation of virtual lounges, community hubs, or spaces designated for team gatherings. This is especially relevant for teams working across boundaries.

Requirements and risks

The deployment of any new technology, including the metaverse, must satisfy critical conditions, ensuring users‘ mental and physical well-being, safety, privacy, and data protection while adhering to ethical, moral, and ecological standards.

« What do we do with people with visual impairments, hearing impairments and other medical conditions? »

Statement from a communication expert in a focus group

These problems might be solved if the technology advances further. In the end, both the organization and its members must be ready and willing to embrace this new technology. Nevertheless, potential risks remain due to the social dimension of new communication practices.

Are employees ready?

Despite the enthusiasm for the metaverse among communicators, the feedback from employees surveyed provide a more muted picture. The majority of employees in German companies express clear reservations about adopting the metaverse for internal communication purposes.

The most useful functions to which the metaverse could be put are viewed as virtual collaboration and virtual training sessions—aspects which directly benefit the survey participants themselves. On the other hand, concerns about security, privacy, and data protection loom large, hindering widespread acceptance.

Conclusion

Even though the metaverse might still be a few years from becoming an integral part of everyday internal communications, it’s wise to start exploring its potential now. In the interim, leveraging AR and VR technologies can help develop the required expertise among communication managers and employees ahead of time.

About the study

The research was conducted by Larissa Benz as part of her Master’s Thesis at the University of Leipzig, supervised by Ansgar Zerfass. Larissa Benz received the BdKom Talent Award 2023 for her work.

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