Mark Zuckerberg and his $10 billion plan so that remote employees don’t hide from their bosses

Mark Zuckerberg, on stage during day 1 of Mobile World Congress 2016. File photo: zz/DJ/AAD/STAR MAX/IPx

  • Meta agreed with Microsoft to integrate its applications to the metaverse

  • It is the first step to build virtual workplaces

  • It would be a third option that would be added to that of working from home or in the real office

The $10 billion investment that Mark Zuckerberg approved to develop his own metaverse last year could negatively affect remote work, while there is speculation about the shadowy intentions of some CEOs and powerful executives in the corporate world.

Two technology heavyweights, Goal Y microsoftannounced an alliance that will allow the company founded by Bill Gates in 1975 to integrate its applications into the metaverse and thus attract more companies to work in virtual environments.

During his keynote address at Meta Connect 2022 last week, Zuckerberg made the partnership with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella public, while also discussing Meta’s new plans to introduce avatars in video conferencing.

Avatars, a kind of digital stand-ins for human employees, can be customized to exactly match the clothing, hairstyle and skin tone of each user in chat.

Zuck hopes the avatars will allow workers to gather around a fully virtual table, an option for those who prefer to keep the camera off during long conferences. It would be a “third mode” between the camera on and off.

“You can still express yourself and react, but you’re not on camera, so it’s like an enhanced cameraless mode,” said the CEO of Meta, after announcing his plans with Microsoft for “a unified digital office that we think can make distributed work much better.”

What’s the trick?

In other words, occasionally stepping away from the computer will no longer be an option for remote employees in the metaverse, even if they think they’re more productive without as many meetings. Hence, some people see Zuckerberg’s strategy as a response to disgruntled bosses who tend to turn off their cameras in chat.

While it could significantly diversify Meta’s business, the idea of ​​avatars would also help recognize executives’ challenges with remote work and try to rectify them, especially when there is a proven “proximity bias.”

Proximity bias describes bosses who prefer to see workers in person, even if it means investing in headsets that cost a fortune. A poll of 20,000 people conducted by Microsoft itself found that employers regularly question the productivity levels of the remote model.

According to the study, the number of meetings per week between users of its Teams platform increased by 153% since the beginning of the pandemic, while overlapping meetings increased by 46%. Likewise, it was found that at least 42% of people multitask, send an email or communicate with a colleague during a meeting.

Another investigation of New York Times in August indicates that eight of the 10 largest private employers in the United States track productivity metrics, including active time online, keyboard breaks or the time it takes someone to type an email.

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Gavin Menichini, using the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset, gives a demonstration of the Immersed Virtual Reality program which can be used for many applications including virtual meetings at the Immersed offices on January 28, 2022 in Austin, Texas. - While still the stuff of science fiction for most people, forerunners of the metaverse vision for the internet's future are already de rigueur for handfuls of people beyond the gamer and techno-hipster crowds. (Photo by Sergio FLORES / AFP) (Photo by SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images)

Gavin Menichini uses the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset, demonstrating Immersed Virtual Reality software that can be used for many applications, including virtual meetings. Photo by Sergio FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

productivity paranoia

Zuckerberg’s enthusiasm for metaverse meetings and Nadella’s support may be related to the phenomenon that Microsoft in its report called “productivity paranoia”: the result of the paradox of leaders who fear that productivity will be lost, even when hours worked, number of meetings and metrics showing actual activity have all increased.

“You end up with employees saying, ‘I’m doing great,’ and leaders saying, ‘I’m not sure about that,’” explained in September to Forbes Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jared Spataro. “There is a real tension that is developing. All companies are working on it.

But some experts are wary of the large-scale turn Big Tech wants to make toward the metaverse. “We would have to carefully attend to the physical implications of the headphones,” he told fortune last year Roshni Raveendhran, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Raveendhran is concerned about possible harmful effects of these new gadgets “such as if they damage our eyesight or our brain functions.” “We don’t know any of these things now, and we won’t know until there’s a pattern of continued use. We need to pay attention to some of them before moving on to wide-scale adoption.”

Metaverse expert Cathy Hackl told Fortune that she thinks the metaverse is unlikely to be as comprehensive as Zuckerberg hopes because, for example, meetings that rely on deeper bonding or team building, such as new employee orientations or Christmas parties, are best done in person.

“Your company cannot treat you to a cocktail virtually,” Hackl opined. The most advanced virtual reality devices reach their limit around 45 minutes. “I don’t think I can use a headset for a six-hour video call.”

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Mark Zuckerberg and his $10 billion plan so that remote employees don’t hide from their bosses