VR in the workplace, part 2: How virtual reality is driving collaboration

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Virtual reality (VR) in the workplace is a thing. And this “thing” isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s growing.

ARtillery Intelligence envisions enterprise VR revenue will increase from $829 million in 2018 to $4.26 billion in 2023, while PwC believes that, by 2030, almost 23.5 million jobs around the world will involve VR and augmented reality (AR).

When we last broached this topic, we explored how businesses are using VR to improve employee training. In part two of our “VR in the workplace” series, we’re going to dive into another way VR is enhancing the work experience: collaboration.

Let’s get started.

How VR enriches collaboration

As organizations continue permitting employees to work remotely and the hybrid work model becomes more prevalent, the challenge becomes finding new ways to sustain – or increase – productivity, keep folks engaged, and preserve effective communication.

These obstacles require companies to incorporate creative methods of collaboration for a dispersed workforce. VR bridges the divide in the following ways:

  • Recreate the meeting space. When employees aren’t in the same physical space, businesses use VR to recreate the setting virtually. With collaborative meeting apps, employees can feel as though they’re in the same room as their co-workers, offering a familiar environment for brainstorming and sharing ideas. With these tools, organizations can re-think breakout sessions, meetings, and presentations.
  • Support key day-to-day workflows. We’ve seen this take center stage in design. For example, in the auto industry, manufacturers have used VR to create virtual mock-ups of the interior and exterior of a car. This process enables designers to make changes quickly and efficiently and lets multiple designers work on the same mock-up simultaneously regardless of location.

In the construction, engineering, and architecture spaces, VR has been used to design, build, and review plans for retail stores, physical facilities, and even college campuses. Now, instead of just discussing a project, co-workers can put on VR headsets and immerse themselves in a 3D visualization of it. This can involve moving a model around for a better view or doing a virtual walkthrough of a site to get a better sense of the layout.

VR and collaboration in action

In a Nestle Purina study, the cost savings and performance benefits of VR stood out, as the company saved $100,000 a year in travel and lost productivity costs by training just 10 salespeople per month in VR. There were also undeniable collaboration benefits as well.

The company used the Oculus for Business platform to connect salespeople in different locations in a virtual meeting space. From there, they could review content, undergo training sessions, and even use whiteboards.

The sales team was also able to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its retail shelf planning. Using their Oculus Quest headsets, the group was able to adjust displays in a virtual space based on updated sales data. All of this allowed them to get the most out of their retail shelf displays.

Just scratching the surface

From employee training to collaboration to data analytics, more and more businesses are recognizing the power VR technology brings in the workplace. But we’re only scratching the surface of how this technology is going to be used.

The office is changing and so are the tools employees need to be at their best. Once upon a time, personal computers weren’t seen a prerequisite for enhancing productivity and efficiency. Now, in most fields, good luck getting by without one.

As it stands, the use of VR in the workplace is still relatively new. Don’t be surprised if one day soon the two become synonymous.

About the authors

Dan Nieves is the Head of North America Enterprise Solution Sales for Facebook Reality Labs.

Tim Fern is the Head of Enterprise Partner Management for Facebook Reality Labs.