Once the stuff of imagination, virtual reality is now very much a part of reality.
Initially, a groundbreaking technology for the gaming industry, VR has rapidly expanded into the world of business. The VR industry was worth about 6.1 billion dollars in 2021 but is expected to be worth $27.9 billion by 2025.
With applications ranging from health and safety to learning and development, VR has the potential to transform workplaces – not just in the future, but right now.
VR in the workplace is not just a passing trend: it’s a valuable tool that is a perfect fit for a post-COVID world.
If you’re looking for innovative ways to engage your employees, streamline your systems, and propel your business confidently into the future, it’s worth considering an investment into VR for your organisation.
Intrigued but not sure where to start? Read on for the lowdown on VR in the workplace.
How To Get Started With VR In The Workplace
How VR Can Enhance Your Workplace
There are a number of ways that VR can enhance your workplace, and not just for the cool factor! They are:
Soft Skills Development
We would be remiss to begin with any other enhancement than our personal favourite, Bodyswaps for soft skills development.
You would be hard-pressed to find an organisation that couldn’t benefit from its staff receiving soft skill development.
What do we mean by soft skills? People skills or human skills – things like active listening, inclusive leadership, conflict resolution, etc.
In an age of AI and automation, it is interesting to be using technology to improve these vital skillsets in organisations. But when you use Bodyswaps you will see the huge potential for technology to enhance leaders’ and teams’ skillsets in this space.
If you’d like to try Bodyswaps, we’d love to show you!
Learning and Development
VR carries enormous potential as a training tool within almost any industry. It can be used to streamline the onboarding process for new employees, allowing them to learn and hone relevant job skills from home more effectively than other digital training techniques like online courses or videos.
Research shows that VR can reduce staff training time by as much as 60%.
Not only can VR in the workplace help train soft skills such as communication, empathy and leadership, but it can teach practical skills such as following a sales process or operating machinery.
In 2019, US giant Walmart trained more than 1 million employees using VR. Cashiers were taught to show greater empathy to customers, and retail workers learned how to deal with armed robbery.
Closer to home, participants in a course in Gisborne learned how to safely drive a forklift via VR technology last year. Following the two-week training programme, the students graduated with a level of technical competence equal to that of somebody who has been driving a forklift for a year.
Health and Safety
VR in the workplace can be hugely beneficial for health and safety, too. Imagine being able to train employees to work in hazardous environments or perform high-risk tasks using VR rather than in real-life situations.
Workers could be fully trained before even setting foot onto a worksite. Companies like Fonterra are already utilising VR as part of their health and safety training.
For many workplaces, wellbeing may often be considered a ‘nice to have’. However, providing your staff the opportunity to decompress and explore wellbeing outcomes through VR is worth exploring. Especially for the high achievers in your team who may struggle to switch off using traditional methods.
Collaborative Remote Workspaces
Remote work is here to stay, but as the pandemic has shown us, there are challenges that come with a remote workforce. Collaboration and engagement can be tricky to manage, and building a strong team culture among a digital team presents its own set of challenges.
VR may be the solution managers are looking for, as many workers won’t be returning to the office. The immersive technology helps reduce distractions and increase focus, and your staff feel as if they’re sitting in the same room as one another instead of looking at a bunch of faces on a computer screen.
Getting Started With VR In The Workplace
There are different kinds of virtual reality devices to suit different budgets and purposes – from VR headsets that connect to smartphones or tablets to standalone headsets or devices run by VR-enabled computers.
One item to consider when looking at which device to use in your workplace is whether you have a preference for tethered or untethered devices. Untethered devices offer the advantage of being able to move freely and not be reliant on any other devices for operation.
The most well-known VR device is the Oculus Quest, produced by Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook.) This is the most cost-effective option, but currently (watch this space!) you will require a Facebook account to operate the system. This isn’t a problem if you use Meta Quest for business, but this uses a Saas model and doesn’t have the Meta consumer ecosystem available to the user.
Pico products are also popular, but not as readily available in New Zealand, and the ecosystem is slightly limited. The same goes for the HTC products, although the technology is developing rapidly, so these may become more suitable before long.
If you are interested in exploring VR in your workplace, then talk to us for some info on which system will work best for your needs.
Important Considerations When Using VR In The Workplace
Virtual reality technologies open up a whole new world for businesses, but they don’t come without their warnings.
As we’ve touched upon above, privacy is a concern. Some types of data collected during VR, such as eye movements, aren’t highly regulated yet. Privacy policies must be proactively addressed and refined before diving into the virtual world.
Virtual fatigue is another factor that shouldn’t be ignored. A virtual environment can be novel and fun, but it can also be disorienting and uncomfortable for some users. Bear in mind, too, that some individuals with visual impairments or certain disabilities may not be able to participate in VR initiatives, so consider how you can be inclusive in the opportunities you provide your team.
Again, this is something that mentokc are happy to discuss with you to create a seamless experience for all team members.
Use VR For Its Value, Not Its Novelty
Just a few years ago, VR in the workplace was just a pipe dream for smaller businesses. But today, it’s more affordable than ever, putting it within reach of almost any organisation.
If you are interested in introducing VR to your workplace, make sure you’re doing it for value, not just novelty. Sure, virtual reality can be fun and may make your business look innovative and creative, but it should be a valuable business tool, not just a toy to make you look cool.
Want to incorporate VR or AR technology into your training and development? The Mentokc team can walk you through the various options and help you discover a blended solution that works for your business.
Contact us today to find out more.
I’m want to explore using VR in my workplace. Let’s chat!