Can VR tech help co-workers become better workplace communicators?

30 March 2022

VR shows its full workplace potential when investment, thought, and effort is put into upskilling staff to retain a productive workforce.

If you’ve paid even the slightest bit of attention to the business media recently, you’ll have noticed a huge amount of hype (and column inches) dedicated to the nascent metaverse, the implications of applied virtual reality (VR) tech, and its predicted impact on the world of work.

But it might have slipped your notice that, rather than waiting in limbo for the metaverse to actually be built, a pack of pioneering companies are already leaning into the use of VR technology across several domains of everyday operation. From ‘soft’ skills development to employee onboarding, training and even mental wellbeing, VR tech is making waves and supercharging success.

But what is VR tech? 

VR tech has evolved far beyond its roots in the gaming industry. Today, users access 360-degree, immersive and interactive video simulations on platforms via headsets, mobile devices or PCs. Managers can use the platform analytics to track employees’ progress and engagement with the content.

As an immersive training tech innovator, I’ve had a front-row seat to watch the rapid growth of the VR market. Now I want to share my insights and support fellow business leaders to harness the potential of the technology. With the right strategy in place, here’s how VR tech could set a new gold standard in your workplace.

  1. Turn employees into effective communicators 

Clear communication and emotional intelligence (EQ) are the foundations on which the best companies are built. However, shockingly, poor communication costs US businesses over US$1.2 trillion every year. VR tech simulation training can fix this.

Traditional —  typically in-person — communication and EQ training are hard to scale, hard to deliver remotely, and hard to measure. These barriers have held back crucial skill development for generations of employees.

However, by immersing learners in hyper-realistic scenarios, VR simulations help learners to develop empathy, subtle cue recognition and decision making in zero-risk settings.  In turn, the information that VR platforms can collect and analyze helps turn subjective experiences into objective data; measurable and trackable.

  1. Streamline the onboarding process

The growth trajectory of most companies is heavily dependent on the pace at which they can recruit and onboard top new talent. But doing this successfully is no mean feat, and in the past it has placed a heavy burden on the time and resources of more senior staff.

Increasingly, employers are turning to VR tech to build their own bespoke onboarding training programs. Content, usually grouped into modules, can take new joiners through goal alignment, internal systems and processes, understanding your product/services, getting to know the customer and their needs, along with tackling common problems.

When coupled with support from mentors and line managers, these fully-trackable onboarding courses help staff to quickly build confidence and competence with remarkable efficiency. And, by integrating opportunities for learners to give objective and subjective feedback throughout the onboarding program, it’s much easier for managers to evaluate the impact of the content.

  1. Multiply the impact of L&D programs 

To retain a productive workforce, it’s essential to put the same amount of investment, thought, and effort into upskilling existing staff as into onboarding new staff. And this is exactly where VR tech truly shows its full potential.

With studies showing that immersive simulation training can improve learning outcomes by 76% and knowledge retention by 230%, VR training is now the norm at companies including

Walmart, Accenture and Bank of America.

This is because, due to its immersive nature, VR training is much more engaging and true-to-reality than e-learning or book-based programs of old. As it can be accessed at any time and from any location, it supports staff to learn flexibly and to balance skill development with their day-to-day work responsibilities. In addition, simulation training is infinitely scalable, and offers the same high quality of experience to remote, hybrid, and office-based employees.

  1. VR tech supports employee wellbeing 

Happiness, health and wellbeing in the workforce are just as important as skill building to overall business success. With this in mind, savvy companies have begun proactively supporting employee wellbeing by leaning heavily on the opportunities provided by VR tech.

Meta (formerly Facebook) became early trailblazers in 2021, handing out Oculus VR headsets to employees to access mental health resources including resilience training and mindfulness sessions. But VR wellbeing content can be just as impactful when accessed on a mobile device, removing the high cost barriers that typically restrict access to mental health support.

The world is changing quickly, and the way your businesses operate needs to keep up. No one can predict exactly what the future will bring, but what we can be sure of is that investing in people – our businesses’ biggest assets – will always pay dividends. It’s a sure bet that the secret to success in the workplace lies in embracing the most impactful, forward-looking solutions for winning, retaining, and supporting top talent.

Article contributed by Dr Alex Young, founder & CEO at Virti