Give your business a big advantage with VR and AR technology.
Remote work was already growing steadily, and COVID-19 only accelerated its popularity. Meanwhile, businesses large and small continue to expand their national and international reach. The evolving nature of today’s workforce has businesses looking for creative ways to simulate real life interactions in digital spaces. Fully realized virtual experiences provide a path to thrive in this new reality, and those that rise to this challenge are discovering untapped potential for growth.
Employees are a main driver of improved performance and business success. If you can find better ways to hire, educate and motivate employees in a remote work environment, you’ll have a significant advantage over your competition. That is why technology designed to enhance the employee experience is gaining momentum with many successful companies worldwide.
From the virtual reality revival to the summer of Pokémon GO, VR and AR have long had a place in the world of video games. As the technology advances and the demand increases, these technologies are taking over the business world as well.
What businesses can benefit from VR and AR?
VR and AR technologies have many fascinating applications in highly specialized fields. With the ability to “imitate anything from extravehicular space walks outside the International Space Station (ISS) to operating an emergency space jetpack,” virtual reality is a critical part of NASA’s training.
The healthcare field has found several ways to adapt AR technology to improve patient care. For example, AccuVein developed a handheld augmented reality device to project a vascular map onto a patient’s skin, making it easier for the clinician to find the right vein.
It isn’t just highly specialized and technical sectors that can benefit from VR and AR. There are many opportunities for broader business applications, especially in the realm of employee training.
Walmart stores across the U.S. use 17,000 Oculus Go VR headsets to provide immersive learning experiences for their employees. In 2019, nearly 1.4 million Walmart associates took VR training including modules designed to simulate the high-stakes, chaotic environment of Black Friday.
What are the benefits of VR and AR in the workplace?
Learning doesn’t feel like work when you learn by discovery, exploration and fun. Recent research on adult learning and retention stresses the need to adopt modern ways, such as gamification, to transfer new knowledge and information. For example:
- The attention span in humans has decreased from around 12 to 8 seconds.
- People who receive immediate, frequent rewards for completing small tasks report more interest and more enjoyment in their work.
VR and AR environments allow you to provide the instant feedback and rewards that help increase enjoyment and reinforce training.
Whether you’re learning how to repair a plane or provide great customer service, people learn by doing. That is the key to the effectiveness of virtual technology. “Because things look and sound as if they were real, the brain processes virtual reality as though it were a real experience,” says Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founder of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford.
Virtual reality lets you experience the world through someone else’s eyes. Businesses can use virtual reality to help employees provide better service by creating VR experiences that simulate the daily life of prospective customers.
Employers often find it difficult to bridge the gap between knowledge and application when it comes to employee training. For example, an employee may have been trained on how to deal with an unhappy customer, but it’s a different matter when you are face to face with a person who is angry or distressed. With virtual technology, organizations can simply ask employees to watch recorded VR experiences to get a better feel for realistic situations.
VR is a smart investment for companies that need to provide training for a large national or international workforce. Though expensive to implement at first, you can quickly start to see big savings on the cost of trainers, travel and facilities for your dispersed workforce.
What VR/AR application could look like for your business
Necessity is fueling innovation when it comes to corporate events in 2020. From virtual trade shows to online conventions, companies have been experimenting with many styles of digital events. There are some unique aspects of in-person gatherings, however, that can be hard to replicate digitally. Those gaps are where VR and AR technology can help match and even improve upon in-person experiences.
- Hands-on interactions: People love to be the first to get their hands on the latest industry gadgets and innovations. With an AR app, they can see these products come to life in their homes.
- Unique experiences: It’s hard to beat the appeal of an off-site conference in an exciting locale. Thankfully, the possibilities for virtual environments are virtually endless. You can put each attendee in the front row for every speaker and every show. You can also provide experiences that wouldn’t work with a big crowd, like providing backstage passes and behind-the-scenes tours.
- Personal connections: Whether you’re sharing ideas with industry experts or generating sales leads, networking is a cornerstone of corporate events. VR helps strengthen interactions by making it feel like you are in the same space as your fellow attendees.
Education and training
VR and AR have the potential to revolutionize workforce training.
Along with many other benefits that all have a positive impact on employee education, these technologies also enable one of the most important aspects of learning and retention: repetition.
For a great example of VR-enabled practice through repetition, we can leave the office and head to the football field. Stanford head football coach David Shaw used VR headsets with his quarterbacks and defensive linemen. Players could experience recorded plays as though they were unfolding in real life. This allowed them to do repeated practice plays on their own time — without being on a field. Not only did this allow for more practice time, it also lowered the impact on the players’ bodies, reducing the chance for injury. This is just one of the ways VR can allow users to repeatedly practice high-risk activities in a low-risk environment.
Practice through repetition is useful for many workplace tasks. Customer service training, for example, combines product knowledge with many soft skills such as assessing the customer’s personality, reading their body language and using appropriate tone of voice. These skills can be difficult to learn in a vacuum and overwhelming to pick up on the fly. With virtual reality however, employers are able to simulate real-life situations that they can practice over and over until each skill is mastered. It also allows for training to be personalized to each individual’s needs, rather than delivering a training session to a whole department.
VR has a lot of potential for improving collaboration within a company. Video meetings, in particular, can be a difficult aspect of remote work. It is harder to maintain focus and ongoing isolation from colleagues can lead to a less productive and less cohesive team.
Using VR video chat can help remote workers pick up body language and other types of non-verbal communication that you would miss with a Zoom call. Workers can be miles away from their colleagues, yet feel that they are physically inhabiting the same meeting room, instantly creating a more immersive, collaborative environment.
VR meetings even have some advantages over being there in person. Language barriers can be overcome with applications that translate in real time and soon remote workers will be able to experience a futuristic mixed reality workspace powered by Oculus.
Recruiting and hiring
Video interviews have their place, but both the company and the candidate may miss out on important information if they never get to meet in person. The hiring manager or recruiter may not have a good sense of the applicant’s personality. The applicant may not have a good sense of the company’s culture. Virtual reality can reproduce the feeling of in-person interactions so all parties can make a more informed assessment.
- Hiring managers and recruiters: Virtual reality technology can give a more complete picture of the potential candidate. Andy Trainor, Walmart’s head of learning says, “With all the data you get from VR, you can see where they look. You can see how they move and how they react. You could do an interview in VR and based on the way they answer the questions, you can preselect whether or not they’d be a good fit for that role.”
- Candidates: VR can showcase a day in the life of an employee at the company or provide an immersive tour of the offices to help them decide if it’s a good fit.
Getting Started with AR and VR In Your Workplace
At GO2, we have experience creating engaging, immersive 3D environments especially for the workplace. Contact us so we can put our knowledge and expertise to work for you!