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Metaverse: Managing workplace behaviours online

Posted on 18 January 2024

Employers increasingly require employees to work and meet in the metaverse. Whilst doing so has its advantages, it also raises a number of HR issues, not least ensuring that staff behaviour in the metaverse remains as professional as in other work environments.

Mind your manners

The metaverse is a model for individuals to create and control digital avatars in a virtual reality space. In simple terms, it is the internet, but in 3D. Whether it be virtually playing sport or virtually attending an office, individuals can interact with objects and others through their avatars in various virtual environments.

When being used in work context, the risk of employees taking a more relaxed attitude to their behaviour in the metaverse is something that employers need to manage. These risks were considered and discussed at Mishcon de Reya's recent Mock Employment Tribunal Hearing. The case, about the alleged sexual harassment of an employee at a work conference in the metaverse, required the judge (and the audience) to grapple with questions around the extent to which liability for actions taken in the metaverse can extend to real life. You can see a video of the highlights of our Mock Tribunal Event here.

A key conclusion from our Metaverse Mock Tribunal Event was that employers who require employees to meet and work in virtual spaces should ensure that they establish clear and comprehensive policies that govern employee conduct in this digital realm. A well-crafted virtual workplace policy not only ensures organisational consistency but also plays a pivotal role in fostering a productive, secure, and collegiate working environment. It outlines expectations, guidelines, and procedures that help maintain accountability, protect sensitive information, and preserve the wellbeing of both employees and the employer itself.

With this in mind, the Mishcon de Reya employment team has produced a 'Working in a Virtual Environment' policy. You can download a copy free of charge.

Recent distressing news about a police investigation into the alleged sexual assault of a girl playing a game in the metaverse highlights the importance of managing such online behaviour and reinforces the need, in a work context, of having appropriate policies and systems in place to foster healthy online behaviour in the metaverse.

If you would like more information on managing employment issues in the metaverse, please get in touch with your usual Mishcon contact or with a member of the Employment team

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