3 Ways VR in the Workplace Can Help Employees

Our expert explains how VR can boost morale and productivity and make training way more fun.

Written by Will Dean
Published on Mar. 26, 2024
3 Ways VR in the Workplace Can Help Employees
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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Even as many employers are still struggling with employee engagement post-pandemic and calling on staff to come back to the office, a virtual work environment is here to stay. Its significant advantages include flexibility, cost savings and time savings. 

Top Ways VR Can Improve Your Workplace

  1. It can boost employee productivity.
  2. It can improve team morale and bonding.
  3. It can make training and development more fun and more effective.

Look around you. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are growing in popularity and are poised for widespread adoption. And it’s not just gamers and those in the entertainment space leaning in. Manufacturers use AR to develop products. Workplaces use VR for training. E-commerce brands are increasingly looking to AR to re-engage shoppers, offering them at-home styling and fitting via their phones. 

Done well, these technologies create an inspiring blend of the real and virtual worlds, building connection and curiosity. Executed poorly, they have the power to further worsen some of the technologies’ biggest side effects by blocking us off from the real world and driving loneliness, isolation and mental burnout

The PwC 2022 US Metaverse Survey found that 51 percent of companies are either in the process of integrating VR into strategy or have already built VR into at least one dedicated line of business. It’s being approached as a tool to help workplaces foster meaningful connections with employees and maintain a competitive edge. Below are three key ways I’ve seen businesses embrace VR and AR in the workplace.

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Boost Employee Productivity 

Companies need productive employees to survive and make a profit. And according to a recent McKinsey study, more than 50 per cent of workers say that their productivity is down. VR has quickly emerged as a new and novel way to address this and improve employee performance and productivity. It’s something that HR leaders are turning to for fun and new ways to ensure that their teams are set up for success and are able meet expectations from day one. 

VR is a way for employees to collaborate, be creative and have more meaningful interactions with each other versus dialing into the usual boring video call, which ultimately takes away from employee connection and satisfaction.

Imagine being able to visualize and interact with a product in a virtual environment before it even exists in the physical world. This is exactly what VR enables, allowing designers and engineers to identify potential flaws or improvements early on in the design phase. 

By eliminating the need for physical prototypes, VR saves time and reduces material wastage. It’s able to revolutionize the way tasks are completed in both the short and long term. VR has evolved into a sophisticated tool with far-reaching implications that has allowed for more efficient and effective brainstorming sessions. 

Plus, VR makes it possible to interact with virtual objects and prototypes, which reduces flaws and mistakes. It can help manipulate data in real-time and it helps everyone, no matter where they are participating in dynamic discussions. With so many distractions and interruptions happening constantly, VR can reduce those issues and help employees refocus.

 

Improve Morale and Team Bonding 

Employees are unhappier now than they were at the height of the pandemic, according to a recent study by BambooHR. They are experiencing a sense of resignation and even apathy from the work they do. 

If this doesn’t concern you as an employer, it should. I believe one of the key reasons for this unhappiness is the lack of personal contact in fully remote working environmentsWe’re in the middle of a loneliness epidemic and workplaces are unable to navigate these challenges on their own. It’s resulting in a lack of staff retention across businesses. Employees crave excitement and many don’t want the dreaded happy hour. Nor do they want the usual team bonding activities like scavenger hunts or office trivia. In fact, they cannot wait until those activities are over.

My company, Immersive Gamebox, was created for this very reason. Our clients are companies eager to experience how immersive technology (combining augmented reality and motion tracking) can increase employee connection and low morale. This technology can bridge the gap with presence and play while also bringing about a sense of belonging and community. Immersive technology doesn’t discriminate — it’s a way to level the playing field as different generations and hierarchy levels mingle and create lasting memories together. 

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Level Up Training and Development

It’s not enough to hire new talent. You have to keep them with you and they need to be given the tools to thrive. Workplaces seem to be failing in this department, which is why job hopping among employees is higher than it’s ever been before. UPS, Ford and Walmart have successfully incorporated VR into processes and workflows for areas such as product development and employee upskilling

PWC’s Metaverse report found that those who were trained using VR learned four times faster compared to those taught in a traditional classroom. Furthermore, the report found they were 257 percent more confident applying skills after learning.

What’s exciting is VR’s impact on developing soft and interpersonal skills, too. The PWC data suggests that employees are more emotionally connected after VR training, compared with training in a classroom. Training can include basic handling of VR devices, navigation within VR environments and specific workshops relating to their professional roles. Ensure that employees understand how to properly use the VR equipment and navigate through virtual environments to maximize the benefits of this technology. 

Moreover, consider partnering with VR training providers who specialize in creating customized training programs tailored to specific industry needs. These programs can offer hands-on training experiences that simulate real-life scenarios, allowing employees to practice and refine their skills in a safe and controlled virtual environment.

Hybrid work is here to stay. While there will always be the need for real face time with colleagues, we’re seeing exciting developments in the corporate AR and VR space. Whether it’s to learn, connect or play, these technologies have proven their role in the ever-evolving future of work.

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