26 January 2017

#VelpicVR 2:  Advantages and challenges of virtual reality training


As technology advances and costs continue to fall, 2017 will definitely be the year that VR finds mainstream purpose within Australian businesses.

VR will soon be feasible for workplace training in every business, whether you want to upskill employees more effectively, deepen product knowledge in your sales and service team, delight (and cross-sell to) more customers, or enjoy other rewards that a training habit can bring to accelerate business performance.

Are you ready to make the most out of these new opportunities? Let’s take a look at what’s possible, and what potential issues there are.

Picking up from the questions I left unanswered in my last blog:

  • What are the wide-ranging benefits of using VR at the workplace, and for growing your business?
  • What are the current problems that need to be solved before it is feasible for VR to be adopted by every business for training?

Advantages of VR for business performance management

Future-focused companies have already started to reap the benefits of using VR as a catalyst for workplace and business transformation in many ways:

  • Enhance interaction with recruitment candidates and organisational fit.
  • Provide virtual onboarding experiences to explore new workplaces.
  • Improve collaboration and establish a ‘presence in the room’ through virtual meetings and conferences, or even office planning.
  • Provide immersive scenario training, especially on high-risk or high-cost tasks.
  • Enhance safe and competent use of equipment.
  • Facilitate leadership coaching for teams and groups.
  • Improve employee engagement, build retention, and reduce turnover.
  • Build competence through realistic and fun sales and service training.
  • Nurture a corporate culture valued by millennials.
  • Provide multinational team-building activities, virtual retreats and social events.
  • Make complex information easier to learn.

The above list of what HR could do with VR is intentionally long, and the benefits list likewise. Using VR for workplace training in any industry can:

  • Reduce or eliminate risk
  • Provide safety and control
  • Create realistic scenarios
  • Complement face-to-face training
  • Save time and money via remote access
  • Improve learning engagement, retention and recall
  • Make complex problems and situations easier to understand
  • Cater to different learning styles
  • Be innovative and enjoyable

Despite the numerous benefits of VR, some may still be skeptical if they believe technology will alienate people from connecting with each other. Paradoxically, VR technology brings people closer together in ways not previously possible.

VR startup founder John Vechey suggests that “The ability to detach our presence from our physical bodies will enhance our ability to come together in community.” This is because “it’s going to feel like you are with people (and) they’re with you, making eye contact, and are present” from their own workspaces without anyone having to get on a plane.

It is now feasible to implement VR training—to increase work satisfaction and productivity in the growing millennial workforce. What millennials value above all else is maximising their full work potential through training and development and I hope to see within my lifetime the innovations that come out of this progressive spirit.

Meanwhile, VR upskilling capabilities can be strategically planted throughout an organisation to provide real solutions for the 86% of companies who have no clue how to reorganise to adopt a more innovative digital culture, nor how to create an organisation with the right culture to attract the best talent.

While momentum for the use of VR for talent attraction and management in the workplace has only started and can only increase, many businesses have been active and innovative in using VR for attracting customers.

VR for marketing. Leading hotel chains, automotive manufacturers and travel companies and clothing retailers are predictably active in this space, and it is no surprise that global brands like Coca-cola and McDonalds are in on it as well. No doubt, the range of VR marketing initiatives will only get wider as more join the pioneering politicians, musicians and insurance providers in captivating their prospects and customers with immersive VR experiences.

VR is definitely popular in marketing, and has great potential to become a new normal in workplace training. It however also comes with its own detractors.

The dark side of virtual reality

Google VR team’s Alex Faaborg is candidly succinct in suggesting how to deal with the potential challenges that come with the use of virtual reality:

  • Don’t make people sick.
  • Don’t scare people.

The discomforts of motion sickness, sudden changes in heights, lack of space, threats from sharp or dangerous objects albeit virtual, can feel very real.

And with regard to VR experiences not to be taken sitting down but that are navigable through augmented reality in 3-D space (e.g. the HTC Vive or Microsoft Hololens), organisations need to have plans in place for a safe space or room to conduct VR training.

What is more diabolical from a workplace training point of view would be the high cost and difficulty in creating VR content that are a direct result of inherent complexities.

What needs to happen to melt away the psychological, physical, and financial challenges that prevent VR from being implemented widely for business upskilling?

Velpic is exploring how we could address these issues. We aim to make it possible and practical for every business to embrace the benefits of virtual reality in workplace training and business performance management.

Before we can deliver a feasible VR solution for every business, let’s look at practical ideas for adding VR to your workplace training mix. Join me in my next blog to unpack this intriguing topic.

Velpic has exciting plans to provide a VR-ready eLearning platform that every business can afford. To find out how Velpic can help you evolve workplace training from "Do I have to?" to "That's entertaining." (video) to "Let's do that again!" (VR), please visit our Virtual Reality page.

Visit Velpic VR

 Interested in reading more about VR? Check out these useful links: