Why we need the Workplace Metaverse, Part II: Work today doesn’t work

Vishal Punwani
Jan 10 · 8 min read

Note: This is the second piece of a 3-part Series. Read ‘Part I: Human Compatible’ here, and ‘Part III: Building a Workplace that Works for Everyone’ here.

A (hilarious) piece of sing-along content we made, poking fun at going back to the office. Watch it on YouTube, here (sing along!).

January 10th, 2022 💫

Hey y’all, Vish here. I want to talk to you about the ‘Workplace Metaverse’. That’s our vision for the future of work here at SoWork.

In Part I, I described how when the pandemic hit in early 2020, like many other teams, we were relegated to being Slack/Zoom Corp #9,866,342, and it just didn’t sit well with us. Our teammate bonds began slipping, and we began to lose the intangibles that being together in Boston brought to our team. Something just felt…off, as it does for probably millions of teams around the world.

So we decided to do something about it. Inspired by the social bonds we built in our MMO gaming days, we built a hacky version of ‘social, online work’, which we shortened to ‘SoWork’. Within a couple of weeks, it completely transformed our team for the better, and we’ve never looked back.

Read about that origin story and transformation in Part I here.

Work today doesn’t work.

2020 completely changed peoples’ relationship with work, for better and for worse. The good news is that people have found routines that suit them. They’ve left city centers to be closer to loved ones. They’ve gotten pets, had kids, and bought houses. Heck, I’ve personally done almost all of the above, and I’d never in a million years go back to being tethered to an office. It’s almost a laughable notion when I look back. The world spun madly on, and employees found much better balance, saving hundreds of commuting hours per year while at it.

But while personal lives are thriving (as much as they can be during a global pandemic, surging inflation rates, record high housing costs — hint: mostly in the business-centric cities, and maddening student loan debt), workplace connection between teammates is sharply falling. New teammates don’t feel connected to their teams. Camaraderie and shared purpose are just not being forged at the rate they were in-person.

But, the solution isn’t to go back to a physical office (we made a very popular commercial about how ridiculous that notion is — dare you to not absolutely head-over-heels love it). The real solution is to address these significant cultural downsides while ensuring employees maintain their life benefits mentioned above.

Within 2 years, every company will need to have a permanent, enduring presence in the Workplace Metaverse. — Vish, and then 2 weeks later Bill Gates, I’m just saying 🤷🏽‍♂️

So what happens if companies don’t set up shop in the Workplace Metaverse, purpose-built for teams to thrive? Well okay, since you asked…

Your best employees will leave for more flexible companies.

Flexible work will more and more become a sign of a healthy, strong company that has great process and employee-friendliness figured out, and is more equitable for underserved employees.

You won’t be able to compete for the best talent.

This guy loves the office environment. How many of us have experienced the ‘shoulder-toucher’? (Wait, are YOU the shoulder-toucher? 😱)

You won’t get to tap into the rich, diverse, global talent pool.

What are the chances that all the perfect people for your company just happen to live in your zip code? (Hint: they don’t). By making workplace amazing in the Metaverse, you can still tap into the global talent pool without losing what makes in-zip-code special.

And forget about your company for a second — imagine what this does to the earning power for talented folks around the world who can now tap into the opportunity to work at your company. In the Old Work World that would have been a pipe dream for them, but the New Work World enables this dynamic to create wealth all over the globe.

You won’t be part of the community where work will happen.

Your employees will be less happy, thriving, and connected.

Distributed teams need human-compatible tools to work together, bond, connect and deepen their relationships. And the pre-pandemic tools from the past, like Slack and Zoom, weren’t built from the ground up to provide this need that teams have if they’re really going to be a team.

If you go back to the physical world, then you ask your employees to make sacrifices they shouldn’t have to make. Why ask them to commute for hours? Why take away their time with their loved ones? Why constrain their geographical choice of living so they can be chained to your office? The ‘9–5 til 65’ mentality needs to go — it just ain’t right.

You’ll have an unnecessarily bloated bottom line.

You won’t be doing your part to improve planetary health.

As it turns out, much of what happens to our planet is dictated by what happens in the business world. Excess business travel. Crowded downtown cores. Overpopulation of commercial hubs around the world. Skyscrapers, parking lots, and smoggy commutes. All of this is driven by our current business infrastructure and habits. You can change all of this. Yes, you can bring dolphins back to Venice 🐬.

While every team in the Metaverse makes a difference, at scale, things start to get really interesting. Imagine when it’s not just Boston companies moving in, but the whole Northeast. And then the whole US. Then Europe. Then Asia. What happens to the demands on our physical infrastructure, like roads, buildings, and parking lots? What happens to our carbon footprint due to corporate activity? What happens to the efficiency of businesses in one connected digital World? It’s every kid’s dream to one day save the world, and with a Workplace Metaverse, we might actually be able to band together and pull that crazy dream off.

So come with us. Move in, or just follow along and cheer from the sidelines. Let’s actually save the world.

Vish

CEO, SoWork

PS: We’re also hiring for almost 50 positions. And we like to put our money where our mouths are, if you haven’t noticed. The company was founded by two men of color and a woman, we have women on our Board, and 5 of our 6 teams are women-led. We also endeavor to only do business with divested banks. If you want to be part of the mission-driven company that’s building the Workplace Metaverse, let us know!

Vish (@vishy_vish) is the CEO and co-founder of SoWork. In his free time, he likes reading, playing video games, dancing, doing martial arts, playing with his cats, dog, and chickens, and dabbling in emergency medicine.

Note: This is the second piece of a 3-part Series. Read ‘Part I: Human Compatible’ here, and ‘Part III: Building a Workplace that Works for Everyone’ here.

SoWork Metaverse

We’re moving work from Earth 🌎 to Cloud ☁️.

SoWork Metaverse

SoWork is where great teams work, form communities, and socialize. SoWork is created by Sophya, a fully remote team that’s charting the course for what amazing work looks like in the digital world. https://www.sowork.com/

Vishal Punwani

Written by

I’m the CEO of @sowork_ and a resident doc. I like gaming, medicine, and working with amazing people. And animals. Twitter @vishy_vish

SoWork Metaverse

SoWork is where great teams work, form communities, and socialize. SoWork is created by Sophya, a fully remote team that’s charting the course for what amazing work looks like in the digital world. https://www.sowork.com/