I am the VP of Engineering at Apriorit, a software development company that provides engineering services globally to tech companies.
The metaverse is expected to make businesses rethink what technologies to use in new markets and new worlds. The idea is to create immersive workplaces for better productivity, environments for every occasion, from brainstorming to corporate parties and gamification elements to engage employees.
While metaverse providers keep polishing immersive virtual environments, Mark Zuckerberg has burned his whopping investments into this technology. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all metaverse initiatives are going to shut their projects down.
We already survived the massive shift from working in physical offices to working from home during the pandemic. Now many of us plan how to adapt business and communication processes to the metaverse, assuming that metaverse tools become worth trying.
As an executive in an IT company who closely works with project managers, I know that hard skills and technical experience alone don’t guarantee success. Delivering competitive products also requires considering human factors and creating a positive work environment.
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In this article, I’ll discuss the impact the metaverse may have on communication efficiency for project managers and company leaders.
What Challenges Will Your Project Managers Face?
Since we lack experience running projects in the metaverse, we still don’t know what challenges to expect. At this point, project managers are likely to be the first people to face issues brought by metaverse tools.
After analyzing predictions and forecasts about how the metaverse might change the work environment, I have outlined a few tasks your PMs should be ready to handle.
1. Define scenarios for using metaverse platforms. A significant challenge will be figuring out which conventional tools to substitute with virtual and augmented reality solutions and which to keep using. For instance, it may be wise to use the metaverse for discussions that require visualization of complex data and employees’ full attention but stick to video calls for short meetings.
2. Read the room full of digital avatars. The art of project management involves reading people’s moods. However, it will be hard for PMs to gauge people’s moods when talking to avatars, especially with the weak graphics many metaverse solutions offer now. Misunderstanding moods and emotions can lead to inaccurate evaluations of motivation, causing PMs to miss hints of arising issues and possible risks.
3. Ensure diversity and inclusiveness. Metaverse worlds can improve inclusiveness for people with physical limitations. However, access to these worlds can be limited by extensive technical requirements and high prices. Also, VR might cause fatigue, acute stress and mental overload. Before adopting metaverse platforms, PMs need to consider all the risks and think of ways to mitigate them.
4. Help employees distinguish the metaverse from reality. All of us are still in the dark about how virtual worlds will impact employees in the long run. Let’s assume that working in the metaverse will allow people to quickly access information, resolve issues, and efficiently do their work. In this case, returning to the real world to perform other work activities might be depressing because of the slower speed, bureaucracy, etc. Such dissonance might cause decreased motivation and productivity.
Get Your PMs Ready For A Metaverse Journey
In my experience, once challenges have been outlined, it’s essential to discuss them with PMs and draw up a strategy for dealing with them together. This helps my teams prepare for possible issues beforehand and continuously improve their project management skills.
Once you decide to adopt a metaverse platform to enhance your business processes, make sure your PMs are ready to adjust their work routines. Here’s what you can do to help them.
1. Provide research opportunities. To align current processes with metaverse tools, PMs first need to research all the pros, cons, risks, hardware requirements, etc. They need to evaluate how useful certain platforms could be for PM activities before deciding whether they are worth the time and money.
2. Arrange collaboration between cybersecurity and PM teams. The metaverse will bring new cybersecurity risks. Therefore, it’s essential to have your cybersecurity officers update corporate policies to prevent data leaks and identity theft. Your PMs will also need to join in, making sure the rest of the team doesn’t ignore new security policies because they seem complex or unnecessary.
3. Discuss the impact of the metaverse and revise your strategy. Make sure your managers evaluate the usefulness of metaverse tools in business processes. This will help you decide whether to keep using certain solutions or switch to others. Note that it’s okay to change your KPIs on the go based on how the metaverse impacts your team’s productivity, job satisfaction, issue resolution and so on.
With trendy technologies like the metaverse, it’s important to determine the real benefits you can get and ensure they’re worth the cost. Keep in mind that metaverse platforms are not the holy grail.
All in all, project management is still 90% about communication with clients and employees. It’s best to stay focused on keeping this communication efficient. While being open to adopting new technologies like the metaverse, you should treat them as additional tools rather than making them a priority for your PMs.