A few years back, Accenture worked with Microsoft to build a virtual campus called the “Nth Floor.” After the pandemic hit, the Nth Floor became a crucial digital tool for onboarding new employees—and an early example of the potential of the enterprise metaverse. The global consulting firm expects to onboard 150,000 employees using its metaverse during this fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31.

What works well in this new virtual universe? What kinks still need to be worked out? To answer these questions, the WorkLab podcast checked in with Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s group chief executive–technology and chief technology officer, to find out what the company has learned as it brings its far-flung workforce together for training sessions and collaboration in virtual environments.

Three big takeaways from this conversation:

  1. Immersive learning has a 33 percent better retention rate than any other form of instruction, Daugherty says, citing an outside study . “There’s real science behind this, which is why we went down this path,” he says. Accenture’s training sessions conducted in its metaverse validate those positive findings. “We’re seeing better results,” Daugherty says.

  2. Accenture’s metaverse includes some spaces that have real-life counterparts and others that are purely imaginary. The expansive Nth Floor has digital twins of real offices or research labs. Within the Nth Floor metaverse is a virtual campus called One Accenture Park, and that’s where new employees go for onboarding. It’s not a replica of any real space, and it includes rooms where people can go to learn about different topics. Bonus: it includes a virtual waterfall and a beach.

  3. Entering the metaverse requires learning new social norms—and navigating it can be tiring. For example, you shouldn’t walk right through other people’s avatars or get too close to them. “It does use more of your brain capacity and energy because you’re focusing on things that aren’t familiar to you,” Daugherty says. Accenture advises people to keep the experience short at this stage. Afterward, “drink a glass of water, take some time, and refresh and re-ground yourself,” Daugherty says. As the technology improves, the experience will too, he says.

WorkLab is a place for experts to share their insights and opinions. As students of the future of work, Microsoft values inputs from a diverse set of voices. That said, the opinions and findings of the experts we interview are their own and do not reflect Microsoft’s own research or opinions.

This is the final episode of Season 2; the WorkLab podcast will be back in a few months for Season 3. For updates, follow the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Here’s a transcript of the Episode 8 conversation.

This is WorkLab , the podcast from Microsoft. I’m your host, Elise Hu. On WorkLab we hear from leading thinkers on the future of work—economists, technologists, researchers. They all share surprising data and explore the trends transforming the way we work. Today we’re venturing into the metaverse and looking at how Accenture uses a virtual campus to onboard its new employees.

Well, I think what we have to do is picture where the technology is going. It’s going to create even more immersive opportunities. And then when you add in the augmented work, I think that’s where the biggest opportunity is going to be for businesses as we go forward—it’s going to be the blending of the completely virtual with the augmented work to create these seamless experiences that bridge the real world and the virtual world.