VR in the Workplace of our Future

VR has the potential to change the way people collaborate, present information and host conference calls.

Although new technology can open a vast amount of possibilities to improve the workplace, we still have a long way to go to understand the full potential of VR.  

Here are just some of the ways it can be implemented within the enterprise.

Collaborative environments

If the success of VoIP and other internet-based audio- and video conferencing solutions is anything to go by, then the next advancement in collaboration could be in the VR space.

VR has the potential to disrupt the way business meetings take place in the future.

Audio, video and web conference meetings have quickly evolved to become critically relied upon business communication tools. However, there are some limitations with these technologies. For example, it’s often difficult to truly express and read body language, facial expressions, point at things and to collaborate on shared information.

In time, there is no reason why VR – conceptually – could not resolve some of these challenges.

A recent survey by Dell Inc., Intel Corp. and consultants Penn Schoen Berland, found that 57% of employees around the world prefer face-to-face conversations with colleagues. Again, this is where VR has potential to excel and disrupt the current way meetings occur.

Imagine working environments where you virtually see someone standing in front of you. You can see them, the working space, their non-verbal cues. It’s as if you’re working there together.  Just think of the applications for teams managing projects across the globe? Now consider, too, how it might change our workspace and collaboration use cases.

We saw how messaging apps and other tools have evolved business communications, what about virtual workspaces? The potential is vastly unexplored.

Of course, VR meetings and collaboration tools have some way to go. Audio, video and web conferencing is only just reaching maturity.  So, it will take some time before these sorts of applications become commonplace and, importantly, that the back-end communication telecom and business network infrastructures are in place to facilitate the vast amounts of data that will need to be carried through data networks.

But, despite this, we expect UC&C VR applications to grow in the future.

Recruitment

VR also has potential in streamlining and improving HR processes, particularly in engaging potential new recruits.

VR can be used to provide a prospective employee with a glimpse into their future role, as well as facilitate virtual company tours.

VR can be beneficial as a tool for training and on-boarding. Which can be even more useful in industries where improper training can be a danger to the employee or those around them.  

An organisation already implementing VR in training staff is NASA. They use the technology to help prepare astronauts for missions by using flight simulators that replicate the space experience.  Another example of a company embracing VR technology is Lincoln Electric which uses VR head-mounted displays to train their welders. 

Marketing and testing

VR can also provide new ways for the marketing and advertising industry to facilitate smarter product testing.  It can allow for larger focus groups to take place, with subjects participating from multiple locations. This, of course, is beneficial to organisations with limited resources.

VR use in the creative industries improves marketing and development of new products or services in real-time in an interactive virtual environment.

For instance, retail brand and marketing teams are using VR to test how product placements on shelves effect the buying behaviour of the average consumer.

By using VR, they create a virtual shopping experience for their test subjects, and allow them to pick up objects and examine the contents of what they plan to purchase. This data is often then used to guide and influence the way stores are laid out, often with profitable results.

Another example of the imaginative ways that marketers can implement VR is within the hospitality industry. Hoteliers are able to use VR to virtually transport prospective customers into hotels in exotic locations.

This new marketing channel has excellent potential for the travel and hospitality industries, to captivate and engage potential buyers.

Data visualisation

As more and more data becomes available for us to improve the way we do business, we face a dilemma. As the breadth of data, and analytics available to us supersedes the capabilities of the technology we use to visualise and absorb the data at the moment.

VR technology allows users to present larger amounts of datasets in more sophisticated and interesting ways. For example, it offers the potential to engage the senses of sound, and touch.  

In addition, the use of haptic feedback gloves could elevate the presentations of data from the current visual-only format to stimulate three of your five senses, meaning that VR offers a new way to make data more engaging and, by extension, more actionable.

A view of the future

Accepting VR in the workplace may seem like a long way off, however, the wide scale adoption may come sooner than expected.  Statista believes that in 2018, the VR hardware market will reach a value of 7.3 billion USD.  

It’s also important to note that when it comes to VR, or any new tech, that it can be easy to be swept away because of its popularity. For those looking to adopt VR successfully, it’s important to realistically determine if this technology fits into the needs of your organisation; and – more crucially – your company culture.

Once VR has been deemed a good fit for your company, it won’t be long until you reap the benefits that it offers.

Over time, too, we will see more and more VR conferences and presentations taking place within our day to day lives. It’s only a matter of time before it forms part of your hyper-efficient future smart office.

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