Maximizing employee productivity is an ongoing challenge for every organization. Research shows that the best companies are 40% more productive than other businesses and that productivity is more valuable than efficiency. To increasing worker productivity, companies are adopting new tools and technologies, including virtual reality and augmented reality. Virtual reality and augmented reality have the potential to radically transform our working lives, providing workers with new skills and greater flexibility. The integration of augmented reality/virtual reality in the workplace will improve the remote work experience and provide hybrid workers with new tools when they are away from the office.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are already finding practical applications in the workplace. Here are some areas where technology is making workers more productive and efficient:
Replace in-person meetings
Teleconferencing has been around for a while, and using tools like Zoom and Google Meet to host remote meetings has become popular with the pandemic. Most video conferences work like glorified conference calls, even with video capabilities. Face-to-face meetings are always more efficient, especially for sales calls. However, travel continues to become more expensive and more difficult. It also requires valuable time outside of work.
AR and VR tools can get you into a meeting without leaving your desk. Using a VR headset, computer or mobile device, you can collaborate remotely in three dimensions, saving time and travel costs. You can also save the meeting for future reference.
Virtual reality tools are proving particularly popular with sales reps who want the benefits of face-to-face interactions without traveling. Using virtual reality for meetings makes it easier for more stakeholders to participate and makes it easier to build personal relationships. Imagine sending a potential customer a VR headset, preset with a hospital environment to demonstrate new equipment in a real environment as a business demonstration. The customer can see and interact with the product. The experience will stand out against other providers and could give you a leg up on the competition.
It’s not just for external meetings either. With remote work here to stay, new ways to keep employees connected are needed. Zoom Happy Hours aren’t exciting anymore (if they ever were), but virtual reality team building? That’s exciting.
Product and process training
In-person training requires training facilities, equipment, and instructors. In manufacturing, training new employees in equipment operations can also mean downtime. Virtual reality and augmented reality can make training more effective and less expensive. Instructors can be anywhere, training employees on new equipment or processes using virtual equipment in a VR/AR environment. Trainees can learn from anywhere at their own pace.
Consider the possibilities for equipment manufacturers who need to train employees on new systems. Take, for example, a manufacturing plant that needs to train workers on how to use machinery. In the current system, the machine must be turned off, which impacts production while employees learn to operate the machine. With virtual reality, the entire process, from start to finish, can be mimicked in a realistic, interactive environment. Employees can train on any of the machines without affecting production. Not to mention that virtual reality is the ideal environment to provide realistic training to new workers without safety risks. The same technology can also increase repair of systems by facilitating remote diagnostics
Orientation of new employees
Integration of new employees is time consuming but necessary. Proper onboarding of new employees increases employee retention 82% and improves productivity by 70%. Twenty-six percent of employers spend a week onboarding and 21% spend an entire month.
Rather than requiring employees to attend online videos, meetings, and exercises, immersive VR/AR can introduce them to a new business from anywhere, including home. They can meet their colleagues in a co-working space, take an immersive tour of the facilities, and even meet with the management team remotely. Not only can virtual reality act as a fantastic onboarding tool in the era of remote work, but it can also be a powerful recruiting tool. What other companies can boast of onboarding their new employees into state-of-the-art virtual reality facilities? And anything can be done without displacement.
Improve soft skills
Improving soft skills in the workplace can be difficult and daunting. Using augmented reality and virtual reality, employees can observe virtual examples of workplace engagements that require soft skills. They can even role-play and practice soft skills independently, recording workouts to review later. Virtual technology can provide a powerful approach to help even the most timid or less experienced workers practice their soft skills without the pressure of being watched by their peers.
For example, employees can practice presentations in front of a large audience. With eye tracking, they can even be scored based on the amount of eye contact they maintained with the audience (as opposed to looking at a teleprompter or notes).
Virtual reality and augmented reality also facilitate the creation of multiplayer environments. Employees can work with experts remotely without traveling for training. It also makes it easy to set up group exercises with in-office and remote workers.
Better data visualization
AR and VR make it easier to access and view more data at once. In the movie, The minority reportTom Cruise uses a gesture-based visual interface to scroll through screens of images and hardware, map data and overlay images to find what he wants. Although our technology is not quite there yet, a similar experience can be reproduced in virtual reality. In a headset, you can create an environment where users see data displayed around them. Rather than trying to fit all the data you need in Windows onto a computer screen, you can project a 360 degree screen with unlimited space.
Using augmented reality, you can view data about the world around you as a real-time experience. For ideation, for example, you can create a visual model of a new product and immediately share the model with sales and marketing to share feedback. You can even make changes on the fly, viewing the results in the AR environment.
Technological advancements will continue to shape the workplace and the manufacturing floor, and augmented reality and virtual reality promise to have a significant impact. The creation of a virtual assembly line and machines accessible in augmented reality will revolutionize training. Placing staff and trainees in the same virtual classroom will make training more efficient and cost effective. Even staff meetings and sales calls will have more impact in a virtual environment, saving time and travel costs. The applications described here are some of the ways businesses are already leveraging augmented and virtual reality to improve efficiency and increase productivity.
Nik Froehlich is the CEO and Founder of Saritasa. His passion for technology and the incredible improvements it brings to our daily lives inspired him to launch Saritasa in 2005. He recognized that many businesses are often afraid to adopt new technologies and sought to bridge the gap between innovation and business.