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Web3 Decentralization – Deborah Perry Piscione

The future of work is not employment…it is the metaverse.  There’s much hype over the metaverse, and what is or is not to come.  The truth is that no one knows exactly the overarching potential of the metaverse and its impact on work, but enterprises such as Meta, Microsoft and Apple are investing heavily to be the dominant player.  And let’s not forget the countless startups such as Virbella, Magnit, and SoWork that are jockeying to determine what our work futures will look like.  What we do know is that not everyone will be rolling out of bed to strap on a VR headset and head to the virtual office where they take their cadence from their hologram boss. We will still have plenty of real-life interactions, however, leveraging a “digital-twin” or a virtually rendered avatar of oneself and working within a digital office will lead to greater opportunities for work productivity, connection, and growth. 

So, what exactly is the metaverse?  The metaverse is a collection of virtual worlds that exist entirely in cyberspace, where users can interact with each other and with digital objects in a way that feels real and immersive.  In simple terms, if the world wide web was web 1.0, and the user-generated web of social media is web 2.0, then web3 is refers to the third generation of the Internet, characterized by the use of decentralized technology, such as blockchain, to create a more open and equitable internet. While the two concepts are related, the metaverse is one application of web3 technology – often positioned interchangeably, they are not the same thing.  

Think the metaverse is far off?  Well, think again.  Recall the jump we made from taxis to Uber drivers, adopting the mindset that a driver no longer needed a professional license to work for the taxi company, and anyone 19 years or older with a driver’s license can just download the Uber app and start driving us around. And, every time you sit down for a Zoom meeting or use those Instagram filters to smooth out your skin or embolden your hair color, you are dipping a small toe into the metaverse’s nascent phases.  

While web3 is still in its early days, we know with certainty that decentralized applications (dApps) will run on a blockchain network, rather than a centralized server controlled by a single entity, such as an enterprise or organization.  Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), enabled by smart contracts and recorded on the blockchain, has the power to supplant every incumbent, centralized company we know today.  

So what does this mean for the future of work, employees and human resources?   The metaverse presents enormous opportunities for HR leadership to reconcile some of the greatest challenges it faces when designing employee experiences, but it requires a whole new mindset for how we view employment.