Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are set to revolutionise the way we interact with technology. As VR and AR continue to advance, their impact on the workplace, particularly in training, is becoming increasingly evident. With 26% of organisations now using VR and AR to train their employees, it’s no wonder that the global VR learning market grew by nearly 38% in 2022.
Virtual reality involves creating a simulated environment that users can interact with, while AR overlays digital information onto the real world. The immersive nature of both VR and AR offer engaging training experiences that go beyond traditional methods, leading to increased knowledge retention and skill development. Virtual reality simulations allow employees to practise in realistic scenarios, improving their decision-making abilities and preparing them for real-world challenges.
They reduce the need for physical training facilities, as employees can access the training remotely. Moreover, these technologies allow organisations to scale their training programmes easily, accommodating a larger workforce without sacrificing quality.
Let’s explore how these technologies are reshaping the workplace and paving the way for new and innovative practices.
What’s in this article?
- How are VR and AR changing the workplace?
- Current applications of VR and AR in the workplace
- What’s next for VR and AR in the workplace?
- The future of VR is now
How are VR and AR changing the workplace?
The introduction of VR and AR is bringing about a transformative effect on traditional work environments by enhancing productivity, efficiency, and collaboration. These technologies provide employees with new ways to interact with virtual environments, data, and objects, leading to more engaging and effective work processes.
Shifting towards immersive experiences presents many advantages for organisations, one of which is enhancing engagement and focus. By creating a sense of presence within the virtual environment, employees are less likely to become distracted, resulting in increased productivity and efficiency. The ability to manipulate virtual objects and data with natural gestures further facilitates a more seamless and efficient workflow.
Technologies such as these also enable remote collaboration, breaking down geographical barriers and allowing teams to work together in real time. Whether it's conducting virtual meetings, reviewing designs, or collaborating on projects, these technologies foster effective communication, knowledge sharing, and teamwork. Remote collaboration reduces the need for travel, saving time and resources while enabling companies to tap into a global talent pool. They also prioritise accessibility, ensuring that individuals with disabilities can fully participate, bringing diverse perspectives and skills to projects.
Current applications of VR and AR in the workplace
Virtual reality is already used as a training tool in many industries, including healthcare, to recreate complex medical procedures and surgeries. Surgeons and medical professionals can practise intricate techniques in a virtual operating room, allowing them to refine their skills and improve patient outcomes. This immersive training enables them to gain hands-on experience without the pressure of a real-life operation, reducing the risk of errors and enhancing their confidence when performing actual surgeries.
Beyond the healthcare sector, VR is also employed in training simulations for industries such as aviation, manufacturing, and defence. Pilots can undergo virtual flight training, practising emergency procedures and honing their skills in a realistic and safe environment. Industrial workers can familiarise themselves with complex machinery and hazardous scenarios without the exposure to actual risks. Similarly, military personnel can engage in virtual combat training, preparing for a range of scenarios they may encounter on the battlefield.
More commonly, VR is employed in product development for creating virtual prototypes and conducting user testing. This allows designers and manufacturers to visualise and interact with products before physical production, identifying potential flaws and making necessary improvements. By involving users in the design process through virtual product simulations and feedback, companies can create products that better meet customer needs and preferences.
Learn more about how VR can be applied across a range of fields and discover 5 exciting uses for virtual reality.
What’s next for VR and AR in the workplace?
The future of VR and AR in the workplace holds many exciting possibilities that have the potential to revolutionise how teams work, collaborate, and innovate. Here are some of the key areas where significant developments could influence workplace dynamics:
- Immersive training
- Improved HR practices
- Increased collaboration
- Efficient product development
- Data visualisation
- Enhanced customer experiences
1. Immersive training
Traditionally, employee training has relied on classroom-style lectures, manuals, or video-based modules. While these training methods have their merits, they often fall short of providing a truly engaging learning experience. This is where technologies like VR and AR come into play, as they offer the potential to transform training programmes into dynamic, interactive simulations that closely mirror real-world scenarios. In fact, researchers from the University of Maryland found that people can recall information more effectively when it is presented to them in a virtual environment.
When it comes to onboarding new hires, VR and AR can provide a virtual environment that simulates the actual workplace. This allows employees to familiarise themselves with their surroundings, company policies, and procedures before their first day on the job. Experiencing virtual walkthroughs, interactive modules, and scenario-based simulations, gives new employees the opportunity to gain practical knowledge and improve their confidence, which leads to a smoother transition into their roles.
High-stress situations, such as emergency response scenarios or high-pressure work environments, can also benefit greatly from the immersive nature of VR and AR training. Replicating high-stress situations in a controlled and safe virtual environment allows employees to practise their decision-making skills and assess the consequences of their actions without any real-world risks.
Find out more about what the future of training looks like.
2. Improved HR practices
Virtual job fairs and interviews are becoming more common as companies seek innovative ways to connect with potential candidates. With VR, job seekers can attend virtual job fairs from the comfort of their own homes, eliminating the need for travel and reducing logistical challenges. These virtual job fairs can replicate the experience of an in-person event, allowing candidates to interact with recruiters, explore virtual booths, and gather information about job openings. Employers can also benefit from virtual job fairs by reaching a wider pool of candidates and conducting preliminary screenings more efficiently.
There are also opportunities for VR to improve how organisations conduct interviews, by providing a more engaging experience for both candidates and employers. Instead of relying solely on traditional video or phone interviews, companies can use VR to create virtual scenarios that simulate real-life work situations. This allows employers to assess candidates' skills, problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit in a more realistic context. Candidates, on the other hand, can showcase their potential in a way that goes beyond a traditional interview, leaving a lasting impression on the hiring team.
3. Increased collaboration
As collaboration tools in VR continue to evolve, the possibilities for remote teams to work together seamlessly will expand. Virtual workspaces in VR can simulate physical offices, enabling employees to interact and collaborate as if they were in the same room, regardless of their geographical locations. This has the potential to break down geographical barriers and enhance global teamwork in unprecedented ways.
One of the primary challenges faced by remote teams is the absence of face-to-face interaction. Traditional video conferencing tools can be limiting, as they often lack the engaging qualities of in-person meetings. With VR, however, team members can overcome this limitation and interact in a more natural manner.
In virtual workspaces, avatars representing each team member can navigate the virtual environment, facilitating real-time collaboration on projects. This enables individuals to have a sense of presence, as they can see and interact with their colleagues' avatars, creating a more engaging and dynamic communication experience. Team members can share ideas, discuss projects, and even co-create in real time, leading to increased productivity and innovation.
4. Efficient product development
Virtual environments enable designers to test the performance and functionality of a product under different conditions by visualising and manipulating products in three-dimensional space. This immersive experience provides a better understanding of the design and allows for real-time adjustments, ultimately leading to more informed decision-making. Designers can inspect every aspect of a product, evaluate its aesthetics, ergonomics, and functionality, and make necessary modifications before moving forward.
Once the concept design is finalised, VR and AR can assist in the prototyping stage. Traditional prototyping methods can be time-consuming and expensive, involving the creation of physical models or moulds. However, with VR and AR, designers can create virtual prototypes that mimic the physical characteristics and interactions of the product. This virtual prototyping eliminates the need for costly physical iterations, reducing both time and expenses.
5. Data visualisation
Traditional methods of data visualisation, such as charts and graphs, often fall short of conveying the full depth and intricacy of data. However, VR offers a unique environment that can provide a more intuitive and comprehensive understanding of complex data sets.
Visualising data in three dimensions with VR allows users to explore data sets from different perspectives, revealing patterns and correlations that might otherwise go unnoticed. Instead of looking at a flat graph, professionals can step inside a virtual space where data points are represented as objects or structures. In this virtual environment, users can manipulate and interact with the data, allowing for deeper exploration and analysis. They can zoom in, rotate, and move around the visualised data, gaining a more comprehensive understanding of its underlying patterns and relationships. This level of interactivity brings data to life, making it easier to spot trends, anomalies, and outliers.
The intuitive nature of three-dimensional data visualisation in VR not only makes it easier for professionals to understand complex data sets, but also promotes collaboration and communication. Teams can enter a shared virtual space, where they can explore and discuss the data together, encouraging a more interactive and collaborative data-driven decision-making process.
6. Enhanced customer experiences
By utilising VR and AR technologies, businesses can provide customers with a unique and engaging way to interact with their offerings. Virtual showrooms and product demonstrations offer a hands-on experience, allowing customers to explore products from the comfort of their own homes. This enables customers to envision how the products would fit into their lives, making the decision-making process easier and more informed. It also eliminates geographical barriers, giving businesses the opportunity to reach a wider audience.
Virtual reality technologies allow companies to showcase products in a visually compelling and dynamic manner. They can highlight key features, demonstrate functionality, and present different variations or configurations, all within the virtual environment. This level of visual presentation captivates customers' attention and enhances the overall perception of the brand and its offerings. In doing so, businesses not only provide a unique and engaging way for customers to interact with their products but also create a memorable brand experience.
The future of VR is now
There’s no denying that the future of VR and AR in the workplace holds promising possibilities. As these technologies continue to advance and become more accessible, their impact is expected to be game-changing. Organisations that embrace these technologies will gain a competitive edge by using their transformative capabilities, as they have the potential to enhance workplace experiences by cultivating a culture of innovation, creativity, and inclusivity.
As we step into the future, the continued development and integration of VR and AR in the workplace will reshape how teams work, collaborate, and innovate. They will help create environments where ideas can flow freely and individuals can work together in dynamic ways. Inclusivity will be at the forefront as VR and AR technologies provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities or remote locations to participate fully in the workforce. These technologies will break down physical and geographical barriers, enabling diverse talents to collaborate and contribute regardless of their circumstances.
Keeping up to date on advancing technologies is crucial for businesses to remain competitive and meet evolving customer expectations. FDM recognises the significance of advancing technologies, such as VR, and their potential for transforming businesses. Our comprehensive tech programmes equip our consultants with the industry knowledge necessary to guide companies through the adoption and integration of new tech solutions.