While U.K. Firms Push Back on Remote Working, IKEA Offers Jobs in New Virtual Store on Roblox Platform

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By Matilda Beinat | 2Q 2024 | IN-7373

Tribunal cases in the United Kingdom and the United States have been advocating for a return to the full 5-day schedule in the office, removing remote working and hybrid working as an option. On the other hand, IKEA and Roblox have partnered and opened a virtual store, offering 10 job positions that can receive promotions, similar to a real-world job. Remote working is here to stay, and Extended Reality (XR) is the technology to facilitate collaboration and productivity moving forward.

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Tribunal cases have been on the rise in the United Kingdom with firms pushing for a return to the full 5-day schedule in the office, removing the flexibility of Working from Home (WFH) implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies in the United States, such as Goldman Sachs, are also expecting senior staff to return to the office full time, claiming that remote working is an “aberration.” While this is happening, Roblox, one of the largest global metaverse companies alongside Epic Games, recently announced its partnership with IKEA. IKEA’s new virtual store is set to open on June 24, offering 10 paid positions to work in the virtual store, able to receive promotions and work their way up the ladder, the same way one would in their regular 9 to 5 job. What does this tell us? Whether we like it or not, virtual working, remote working, and everything digital space-related is a part of our lives.

The "Co-Worker Game"


The new “Co-Worker Game” launching on Roblox will allow players to work in IKEA’s virtual environment. This partnership provides a unique approach to experience a career journey that is commonplace, as well as developing within the role in a virtual environment, something that has never been done before. All experiences that are available to you in the physical IKEA stores will also be available to you on Roblox, including having workers help you with your shopping experience. The choice of using Roblox, an Extended Reality (XR) platform, for the project of “Careers Done Different,” pioneered by IKEA, is a testament to how XR can be used for enterprise solutions. Multiple companies are partnering with XR/metaverse companies. For example, Netflix with Roblox, as well as its new partnership with IKEA, alongside many more such as LEGO, etc. The choice of opening a store on Roblox is a clear indicator of IKEA identifying its strongest opportunity now, demonstrating how working can be accomplished in a less traditional way.

Following the pandemic, remote working became the next big thing, and people found that they were more motivated during working hours when they could stay home a couple days a week. In fact, Forbes reports that workers with either flexible remote working or remote working as a choice tend to report higher productivity and greater abilities to focus compared to workers with no ability to shift their schedules. ARuVR, a leading XR software and service platform advocating for learning and training through immersive content, has reported 75% to 90% increase in content retention, 95% improvements in engagement rates, 30% increase in user satisfaction, 40% reduction in training time, 45% reduction in post-training error rates, and 70% improvements in user performance through the use of remote operations and immersive learning and training. TeamViewer’s AR remote assistance and guidance connects machines and devices to troubleshoot them remotely. Applying these solutions can reduce the time-to-resolution by 20%, reducing service travel costs by 15%, and increasing technician efficiency by 20%. Even though firms are advocating for in-person work once more, it is inevitable that remote working will stay, especially with technologies such as XR enabling immersive collaboration in any geolocation, provided you have a connection to the Internet. IKEA opening a store on Roblox enables the shift from traditional working to more efficient and accessible working.

Navigating Remote Working in an Immersive Environment


Fear of moving work to a virtual space has been lingering for a few years, especially from companies that are not forward looking in terms of technology. We quickly moved from full 5-day working weeks to entirely remote working, to flexible remote working, and now tribunal cases wishing for time to turn back to full 5-day office working. The words turn back are important here, because that is not the answer. IKEA and Roblox are a testament of the direction we should be moving toward: innovation, implementing new methods of collaborating, and working toward new goals.

  • Innovation: Making a more ambitious plan that forms part of a larger strategy is important in the current state of the market. Organizations should adopt flexible work models that combine both in-office and remote working as an option. As technology advances, and XR can soon become a part of remote working (see Zoom and its XR goals), hybrid working will continue to be the norm. Hybrid models cater to diverse employee preferences, and it has shown to increase job satisfaction and productivity.
  • Invest in Digital Infrastructure and Training: Robust digital infrastructure can provide comprehensive training to ensure all employees work effectively in both a remote and/or virtual environment. This includes secure communication tools, collaborative software, and cybersecurity measures. By equipping employees with the right tools and skills, organizations can maintain high levels of productivity and security regardless of where their employees are located on the map. Continuous learning and adaptation to new technologies, such as XR, will be crucial for long-term success.
  • Foster a Culture of Trust and Accountability: By developing a culture centered on trust and accountability, leveraging XR technologies to enhance remote collaboration, and focusing on the outcomes of work produced, rather than time spent, can empower employees to take ownership of their tasks, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity. Trusting employees to manage their own schedules and workflows can reduce micromanagement and create a more positive and motivating work environment. Incorporating XR technologies can further enhance remote working by providing immersive and interactive platforms for collaboration. This is one of the goals for IKEA’s new “Co-Worker Game” initiative with Roblox.  

As remote working continues to be a significant aspect of modern employment, especially after seeing employee satisfaction and productivity increase post-pandemic, it is crucial for organizations to adapt and innovate to remain competitive and supportive of their workforce. By embracing hybrid work models, investing in digital infrastructure and training, and fostering a culture of trust and accountability, enhanced by XR technologies, companies can create a resilient and dynamic work force. IKEA and Roblox have taken the initial step toward monetizing and creating a work environment that is both enjoyable and productive—an innovation that is one of the first of many to come.


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