Virtual Reality offers a variety of benefits to business training, including immersive experience, realistic simulations, cost and time efficiency and continuous learning. It can also increase employee engagement and boost productivity.
For companies that have a large percentage of remote employees, VR reduces travel costs and downtime by eliminating the need to go to an external location. It also helps reduce the company’s environmental footprint.
1. Immersive Experience
As a technology, VR provides an immersive experience where employees can learn and practice skills without having to leave the comfort of their own home. This can be especially useful for industries like healthcare, manufacturing or energy where on-the-job learning is dangerous and expensive.
Programming that imparts soft skills like honing interpersonal relationships, understanding diversity and inclusion or delivering feedback can also be more effective in VR than traditional classroom training. Moreover, VR can be repeated over again to ensure that employees have a chance to fully grasp new concepts.
In fact, a PwC study found that people who learn through VR get up to speed four times faster than classroom learners and two times faster than e-learners. This is because, unlike in-person learning sessions, which require days of group instruction and travel, accessible virtual training is an ongoing investment that can be adapted as required without the need for costly facilitation.
VR has the potential to elicit stronger emotional responses by offering hyper-realistic graphics and physics which can immerse users more deeply into their virtual environment. Realistic simulations allow them to suspend their disbelief and connect with content on deeper levels leading to more effective training and education.
Having the ability to replicate workspaces and tailor-made scenarios is one of the biggest draws for using VR in business as it gives employees a hands-on experience with their work and helps them build practical skills that they can transfer to the office environment. It also cuts the time it takes to get a new hire up to speed as they don’t need to go out of their way to attend face-to-face meetings.
Similarly, for workers in high-consequence environments like police officers and doctors, VR is helping to train them in safer spaces. Medical VR solutions, for example, enable surgeons to practice intricate procedures without risking patient safety and have been shown to improve surgical performance.
3. Realistic Simulators
VR hire is a powerful program for practical training. It allows employees to practice a task without any risk, allowing them to learn by trial and error. The results are better retention of the skills and more confidence in their ability to perform the job. It can also be used to lower risk in life-threatening situations like medical procedures. Surgeons in Rio de Janeiro were able to practice on VR simulations before performing the world’s first operation to separate conjoined twins.
It can also be used to train soft skills, like empathy and communication, which are hard to teach. Jeanne Meister, managing partner of HR advisory, research and membership firm Future Workplace, says many organizations used VR for soft skills training during the COVID-19 pandemic because it was less expensive than bringing people together in person. With the continued spread of remote work, it’s expected that more organizations will turn to VR for this type of learning.
4. Social Learning
VR is an excellent tool for teaching social emotional skills. It allows students to experience different cultures and ecosystems without ever leaving their classroom. This type of learning teaches students to respect others’ differences and promotes collaboration.
Virtual reality can also be used to teach interpersonal communication and higher-level thinking skills. For example, Cornell Verdeja-Woodson of Brave Trainings uses VR simulations from vendor Vantage Point to educate managers about unconscious bias in workforce decisions. He recently had his team create a scenario where one of the avatars made discriminatory comments about a co-worker’s sexuality, which prompted discussion about appropriate responses to such situations.
Another advantage of VR training is that it eliminates the need for employees to travel to attend in-person courses, which can reduce costs, and can improve efficiency by reducing downtime. Plus, virtual training can be updated and repeated at any time with no additional cost or process.
Unlike traditional training methods that require employees to be in the same room, VR allows for access from any location. Headsets are lightweight, durable, and can be shipped to staff in different parts of the world without incurring the additional expense of travel arrangements.
Employees can practice a wide range of tasks in VR that they may be unprepared for in real-life, such as working at height or handling hazardous materials. This is especially valuable for workers in high-risk industries, such as healthcare and construction, where a lack of experience can lead to costly mistakes in the field.
Training employees for customer service tasks is another use case that benefits from the accessibility offered by VR. For example, Strivr’s immersive learning solutions allow for on-demand practice that addresses both critical thinking and soft skills, such as empathy and communication with customers. The result is a more efficient upskilling process with measurable results for the company’s bottom line.
The immersive environments offered by VR can reduce the need to travel, making it a cost-effective way to train employees. This is especially true for remote workers. Additionally, VR training can be easily updated and re-deployed without the need for additional training materials or equipment.
Virtual reality also allows learners to practice on their own with minimal distractions. In fact, the PwC study found that once a VR program reached around 375 participants, it became cost-competitive with traditional classroom training.
New technology like eye tracking means that VR programs can collect attention and engagement data, which is an important predictor of on-the-job performance. Combined with its ability to provide realistic, risk-free simulations, this makes it easier for companies to develop soft skills and interpersonal communication training programs. For example, Strivr’s end-to-end VR platform enables Verizon and other businesses to use their virtual environment to train employees on how to handle situations like robberies.