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If the metaverse unfolds as expected, competitive office politics could become a relic of the past, as employees who are fully confident in their unique value work together to achieve shared goals with employers. Before dismissing this future as a fantasy, think back to the early 1990s. No one could fully envision how the internet would shake up every industry to its core. Gartner analysts recently predicted that by 2025, 10% of workers will regularly use virtual spaces -- up from 1% in 2022.​

Imagine a workplace where competition doesn’t matter

The metaverse could create an open, global talent marketplace so trusted that verified organizations could find and hire the experts they need because everything about those individuals – including their accomplishments, aspirations, and development goals – was documented and readily available with their permission. Worker shortages could disappear because companies could submit tenders for projects to a community of meta creators. Experts would autonomously connect with a company’s opportunities and KPIs, working together to accomplish common goals.

“In the metaverse, employees won’t worry about someone trying to take their job because it will be impossible,” said Martin Wezowski, chief futurist at SAP New Ventures and Technology. “No one else can be you because your worth is verifiably documented, spanning not just your experience and accomplishments, but just as important, your people skills, optimism, and curiosity. Confident employees are more inclined to complete each other and not compete against opposing agendas.”

Metaverse builds a more human-centered workplace

The metaverse will consist of physical, augmented, and virtual worlds. Applied to the workplace of the future, people could easily gain contextual information and make better decisions across a realm of daily responsibilities. Data could include the employee’s personal passions and professional ambitions, along with relevant information from colleagues across business ecosystems, factoring in overall organizational and objectives.

“Employees are not a single function or persona. They are cognitive humans who wear numerous hats in the course of a day,” said Wezowski. “Instead of getting stressed out trying to switch gears and keep up with multi-faceted requests, individuals working in the metaverse could be augmented with the contextual information they need as they perform various tasks, moving smoothly between their roles, whether it’s C-level executive, innovator, manager, project member, trainee, mentor, and more.”

Autonomous workplaces go beyond automation

In the first digital age, automation freed up people from tedious rote tasks. The metaverse would make this kind of rudimentary automation look like child’s play. Instead of static processes that are pre-programmed for completion in a one-dimensional physical space, the metaverse could provide all of the immediate information employees needs at the exact moment they need it in virtual, augmented, and/or physical reality.

“These packages of personalized knowledge would speak to workers where they are with a dynamic, autonomous flow of information that moves between that person’s worlds, without overwhelming them,” said Wezowski. “Employees would grasp new knowledge and apply it faster because learning in the metaverse could be fully immersive, using all five senses. People would build stronger, trusted relationships because multi-sensory interactions in the metaverse would be more authentic and personalized.”

Tapping the value of people

In the decentralized metaverse, people will not only remain an organization’s most valuable asset, but their individual skills could yield even greater value for themselves and the company. For example, alerts about pending machine part failures prevent downtime on the factory floor. What if machine intelligence could autonomously source engineering designs from the larger market ecosystem to prevent that problem in the first place?

“Creative decision-making could be the new value for organizations as the highest output that humans do better than any machines,” said Wezowski. “We would want to be not the best, but our optimal self in each situation, able to apply our unique human ingenuity, augmented by technology, to reach our objectives. This alters the employee/employer relationship to more of a win-win. Humans and machine intelligence will operate in empathic symbiosis, nurturing the core value of every company, which is the people.”

Innovators with bold thinking leap ahead

Much as digitalization upended last century business norms, the autonomous nature of the metaverse could fundamentally reshape our definition of meaningful work.

“Let’s say that engineers in Asia design a part that’s 3D-printed in Mexico, distributed to factories in the US for robotized assembly, and sold in target markets based on precise market demand forecasts,” said Wezowski. “With the autonomous flow of highly contextualized information, people could be prompted to step in and make their most valuable contribution. They could transact business based on values they choose, such as money or mentoring. When employees focus on companies and projects that help them grow in new ways, it's beyond business transformation. This is human transformation.”

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This blog also appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.