Virtual reality is one of the most evolving technologies nowadays. Its application goes beyond gameplay and now involves many fields in which companies strive to achieve efficiency through digital transformation. For example, virtual reality in health care is used to provide a favourable therapeutic setting where hospitalized patients can get distracted from the pain. Besides health care, VR is actively employed in business environments where workers need the means to relieve stress.
Technological development makes any business technology-dependent, with VR is in great demand worldwide. The application of VR technology is extremely vast. The 2019 Market Research Report says that the global VR market will stand at $120.5 billion by 2026. The key areas of VR usage include gaming, the automotive industry, healthcare, and retail. But each industry still sees the value of VR in a better work environment that it creates.
Here are 10 ways of how Virtual Reality technology benefits people at work and allows for better workplace productivity.
1. Techy Training
Giant corporations adopt VR technology to provide on-the-job training for a thousand employees at a time. Since not every workplace can house so many trainees, the use of VR sets is an amazing alternative that allows transferring knowledge and skills without the need to be physically present on site. A VR classroom setting is a lot similar to a real-life workplace with the only difference that tactile experiences in VR situations are poorly defined.
For example, Walmart implemented a VR traineeship in 2017 and currently teaches 140,000 of its personnel using VR training annually. The complexity of VR learning lies in the cost of this technology. It may be pricey for many businesses, but in the long run, the advantages of VR training outweigh the expenses it imposes.
2. Smart Recruitment
The concept of VR is also popular with recruiting agencies that have to interview a large number of candidates in a short time. It is physically impossible to meet and test a hundred individuals, especially when the competition is taking place on a national level. By contrast, a VR interview is less cost- and time-consuming, but still effective and precise when it comes to assessing a candidate’s skills. The VR workplace environment lets both an interviewee and interviewers interact freely as if they were sitting next to each other.
The VR interview provides all the necessary conditions where the candidate can show their communicative skills and highlight their strengths, whereas the interviewers can assess the candidate’s aptitude and job expertise. This three-dimensional environment imitates a real one and therefore allows recruiters to find the right staff a lot faster.
3. Remote Collaboration
VR looks most appealing to large-scale companies for a reason. Their in-house staff works with telecommuters more effectively using VR sets. Real-life scrum meetings and video conferencing are not as convenient as VR collaboration. It does not require relocating to participate in discussions and enables employees from different departments to communicate anytime. This opportunity is extremely important for distributed companies with employees working in different time zones.
There is another explanation of why VR should be applied instead of other communication modes. Unlike Skype calling and messaging, VR interaction gives more space to watch the body language. In particular, this advantage is of great value during negotiations when the seller strives to learn their prospects most carefully. In that case, VR allows talking face-to-face and cooperating as productively as it would be in reality.
4. Ideal Customer Service
The appeal of VR technology is also connected to an ability to improve customer service. Some internationally renowned fashion brands like Adidas and Zara use VR to create virtual showrooms where customers can see whether one or another outfit suit them well. This innovation has one more positive effect. Virtual fitting spares companies to hire more staff to work with customers because immersive showrooms function independently and do not need human intervention to demonstrate a potential customer the major benefits of a target product.
On a business-to-business level, VR can be successfully used in product demonstrations, especially when it is not possible to carry the product itself from company to company. VR creates a real-life experience where a potential buyer can see a product size, colours, functionality, and construction. This realistic and immersive product presentation has a positive effect on prospects as they get the right image of the product.
5. Error-free Design Solutions
Alongside product demonstration, VR is also important for product design and testing. Using VR technology, engineers can preview the end product and make changes to the design to achieve optimal performance and at the same time retain good specifications. Quality assistants, in turn, see to it that the product has no flaws or imperfections in operation before it goes into production. VR is often used along with other software tools, such as CAD. It allows for significant cost savings as engineers do not have to waste resources on producing mock-ups.
Similarly, VR is useful in terms of accessibility. When a complex project involves numerous teams, it is easier to work through the cloud. Every team member can access the cloud-based project and improve the part they are responsible for. This type of collaboration is faster and less risky as the entire team supervises each other throughout the product development.
6. VR as a Leisure Activity
VR is also changing the way employees can handle stress at work. Now, they can play games or travel online to feel relaxed and distracted. This method of stress reduction proves effective as such a drastic change of activity helps workers take their minds off work issues for a while. Using VR technology, individuals can create amazing and personalized immersive experiences which, as opposed to real-life situations, let them enjoy pleasure and satisfaction. What is more important is that people involved in gameplay or virtual travelling feel in control over their 3D journeys. This feeling contributes to their recovery from work stress and lets them get back to their duties clear-headed.
However, the biggest application of VR is linked to clinical settings where healthcare providers rely on VR as an addition to treatment. The following four ways of VR usage refers to situations in which patients improve their health state with the help of VR opportunities.
7. Treatment of PTSD Using VR
VR is a part of virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) that is considered effective in battling PTSD. Here, VR tools are used to recreate situations that PTSD patients try to avoid as a result of emotional trauma or phobia. A patient is put into a specific VR environment programmed to help this individual cope with PTSD symptoms in a smooth manner.
For example, ex-soldiers may go through war-related journeys, while patients suffering from various phobias are most likely to face scenarios proving that their fear is ungrounded and exaggerated. Surely, such immersive experiences are strictly supervised by medical professionals because the risk of getting treatment out of control remains high.
About all the advantages that VR technology brings to medical treatment, this opportunity is still unavailable for many people because not many clinical facilities have enough financial resources to invest in the purchase of relevant VR equipment.
8. VR Against Autism
As seen in the previous paragraph, VR is effective in coping with mental-oriented diseases. Another condition that VR can alleviate is autism. VR headsets are actively employed to help people afflicted with autism learn new things and get experiences that can be unavailable for them.
For instance, children travel to different places in the world using VR sets and thereby can enjoy beautiful landscapes or know what it feels like diving, snorkelling and so on.
Another benefit of VR for individuals with autism is that they can gradually get used to the things that they cannot handle at this point. Overall, VR lets both young and adult patients struggling with autism become more mature and skilful in various activities.
9. VR Meditations
The adoption of VR technology by numerous clinical facilities is also explained by the fact that the number of people suffering from anxiety is growing. The digital world gives plenty of opportunities but at the same time triggers various mental disorders resulting from loneliness, lack of communication, and constant pressure from social media. One such disorder is anxiety that can be treated with VR meditation. In that case, a patient is put into a calm and peaceful 3D environment that allows them to essentially reduce anxiety and even depression.
Often, this VR climate is followed by a soothing and gentle melody, such as piano music, which boosts the effect of 3D meditations and speeds up the process of recovery. Unlike regular meditations, 3D ones work faster as your brain is less disposed to get distracted by external stimuli. The use of VR against anxiety can be also practised at home on condition that you are aware of what type of meditations has a healing effect on your mental state.
10. VR as a Therapy for Paraplegia
Finally, the strongest effect of VR is seen in VR-based physical therapy for patients afflicted with paraplegia. A VR system is utilized to control the patient’s brain activity. The patient is required to imitate walking in an immersive environment. By repeating movements, they make the brain work as if they moved in reality and sends signals to the spinal cord. While learning how to walk in 3D space, patients may experience similar feelings that healthy people have. As a result, their brain remembers what to do, and sometime after the therapy, some patients begin regaining partial sensation in their limbs. Thus, Virtual Reality gives many people a chance for recovery as it proves effective in treating paraplegia.
What is the Future Potential of Virtual Reality in the Workplace?
Remote work is objectively more advantageous in comparison with office routine. However, there are some substantial downsides to being a telecommuter. Such difficulties as the lack of teamwork and face-to-face contact with fellow workers may result in untimely emotional burnout or the development of mental disorders. However, the adoption of VR technology by companies will let each member of their staff interact with other workers closely and irrespective of their time and location. This change will make remote work less burdensome and allow telecommuters to feel their belonging to the community.
Moreover, VR will further affect the way businesses trade and cooperate. Since any product can be visually represented, it will trigger an increase in the number of sales and deals made between businesses. VR technology will also change the nature of advertising. Instead of YouTube or Instagram commercials, people will enjoy 3D catching videos with tactile sensations encouraging them to try new buying experiences.
The rise of VR will promote the transformation of the digital economy too. More e-commerce stores will soon adopt the benefits of VR allowing customers to select and buy any stuff remotely. The virtual reality will substitute even more real-life practices making people freer and more limited at a time.
Future Projections for VR Technology and VR Headsets
As more and more businesses shift to the virtual, VR is expected to become even more popular. Now, its benefit mainly boils down to conveniences it gives to people working remotely because some limitations are preventing VR from getting popularized. The major obstacles are technical glitches, cost, and lack of quality content.
For example, Oculus Rift has considerably evolved from the moment Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion. Though the price is becoming more and more affordable (now it is priced at $149), Oculus Rift’s performance is still undermined by connectivity problems and corrupted software. But its power is yet to come.
As soon as technical issues will be solved and the price for virtual reality headsets will become more democratized, we will see a major change in how people interact and entertain.