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Virtual Reality Brings New Vision to Workplace Training

VR is currently in a bit of a no-man’s land. For the most part, those who use it are convinced that it is one of the greatest systems ever for gaming, while those who don’t use it are convinced that it is an advanced gaming system and not for them. Of course, there are users who recognise the benefits of VR in a number of different fields. But until more non-technology users become aware of the potential of VR in everyday applications, the more quickly the technology will spread.

One of the best areas for this to be recognised in, is the world of training. Luckily, we are starting to see this become a reality. The fact is, VR brings a huge new element to training and makes teamwork in training both fun and inclusive. 

A new training simulation that requires a team to work together in VR has been launched by UK training specialist, Jenson8. The package, named Apollo, sees a virtual team of robots land on the planet Mars, and have to work together to complete a series of tasks. Trapped on the surface, the aim of the training is to collaborate to conquer a variety of obstacles and flee the planet in a space pod. The operation is only successful if all of the robots escape, but not if only one or two of them take off on their own. Not only does everyone have to survive, but they need to ensure that all other team members remain safe too. Okay, so there is no real jeopardy, but if the premise of the training is taken seriously then it becomes a fun and engaging exercise, and the VR element just amplifies that. During the simulation, team members can adopt different roles and have different perspectives on the task in hand and review how it all went once the VR goggles have been taken off.

It’s been a tough time for business, with the pandemic and lockdown, and the rigours of many staff working from home. This has left the business training programs in disarray, as it has become difficult to get people together and arrange training sessions. However, VR has the potential to overcome the issue of people’s absence. 

Virtual reality (VR) has gained widespread attention for its use in training professionals in technical fields, such as aviation or machinery repair. The popularity of virtual reality has increased alongside the development of the metaverse. Based on the results of a recent poll, 51% of businesses have either integrated VR into strategy or are in the process of doing so. One survey found that 34% of metaverse users see VR as a more effective way to develop and train their people, and as a major benefit they have experienced or anticipated from the technology.

There is a general consensus amongst many of the big-name and technology-based companies that, while employees may be highly trained in their specific fields, soft skills could always be improved upon. The need for strong leadership and team working skills are seen as being imperative, but these are much harder to train out in a simple classroom environment. Most trainers feel that in a real-life situation, some who may have good organisational skills but are a bit weaker on leadership are quickly overridden by the few with huge egos who always push themselves forward.

But VR, it turns out, is a great leveller. Put that same cohort into a VR space, and there is a greater propensity for those who wouldn’t normally step into a leadership role to take command. Likewise, teamwork is more focused when the team is in a virtual environment and those who may have been reticent in the real world, step up to the plate. It’s almost as though the virtual world removes people’s inhibitions and makes them project. Troops of psychologists are still trying to figure this out, but the facts seem to stand up.

This is, of course, great news for trainers. Getting as many people as possible involved in a group training session makes the exercise a greater success, and any technology that can help that is greatly appreciated. However, VR is not like other technology, and that factor seems to appeal to people. Integrating within a virtual environment has a profound effect on people, as though they don’t need to be themselves anymore.

Of course, VR training has a number of other advantages too, such as not having a need to get all participants in one room, and being ideal for training out dangerous or difficult tasks. But for most people, the major advantage seems to be that they engage with it to a far greater degree than when simply sitting round a desk watching PowerPoint presentations.

As more training modules like Apollo become available, and the cost of VR equipment continues to drop, VR training is going to become more appealing. And that can only be good for both training and VR.