Virtual Reality is an umbrella term that comes in many forms: augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and extended reality. Each form of VR provides the user with a sense of immersion at varying degrees. When you factor in the possibility of sensory input beyond just visual and auditory, that VR continuum of possibility extends even further.
While the idea of experiencing a virtual world may sound like science fiction, virtual reality experiences in 2019 are very much available at the consumer level.
What About Enterprise VR?
Arguably, the best place to experience state of the art Virtual Reality is an industry in which most HR practitioners wouldn’t expect to find themselves: video games. In terms of VR tech, video game companies are like ultra-marathon runners in a 5K race.
Gaming devices such as Oculus, HTC Vive, or Playstation possess capabilities that dramatically outpace a layperson’s expectations. These VR gaming systems are so good that the technology is now being adopted outside of the game industry for which it was originally designed.
Human resources is just one of those places where VR is being adopted.
Although our focus is the enterprise application of VR for HR, I do recommend HR practitioners at least look into how video games have thrived with VR technology. Doing so will help understand a bit more about what to expect with VR for HR as technology improves.
Passionate human resource practitioners understand that at its core, HR is about a company’s most critical asset: people.
This post focuses on employee adoption of technology. An understanding of how employees adopt technology will help us understand how an enterprise VR implementation might go over inside an actual organization.
First, Put Yourself inside Your Employee’s Cube:
To begin, picture an office-style workplace environment. Within a cubicle or office, workers sit in ergonomic adjustable chairs. Often, desks move up or down, offering “standing desk” capability.
These employees do most of their work on a laptop computer. The laptop’s display is often extended to two or more additional monitors. Many employees wear expensive noise-cancelling headphones.
With LCD screens surrounding the field of vision and headphones drowning out distractions, the employee’s sensibility to the outside world is almost removed. They see and hear little outside of digital notifications. Lounging in an environment of comfort and focused knowledge work, the modern workplace has already become somewhat of a virtual world.
But let’s hope our employees don’t get too immersed in their cubicles, its important get move around the office. Innovations in interior design and office furniture give employees unique zones to conduct their business that didn’t exist years ago. Soundproof pods, for instance, allow the employees to make phone calls free of colleague earshot.
Employees Welcome Tech With Open Arms
According to bls.gov, the average full time M-F worker spends about 8.5 hours working per day. A 40+ hour work week means employees spend close to more time in the office during waking hours than they do at home.
Its no secret that newer technology tends toward more and more of an immersive experience. More immersive tech means we are more tuned-in to do our jobs; by-and-large, employees love it.
Say what you will about the addictive nature of internet access via cell phones and computers, as technology becomes available to employees in the workplace, you can be confident that it will be greeted with open arms. Employees adopt workplace technology at an alarmingly fast pace.
Curved monitors are now quite common in some offices; where there is an option, desks that lack curved monitors are abandoned. After experiencing newer and better technology, the former feels obsolete. Humans crave the new, the novel, and the innovative. Modern workers won’t stand to revert to a more elementary desktop display. This fact of human nature is exemplified nowhere stronger than in the location where we make our livelihoods: the workplace.
We can expect the office environment to become more immersive. Virtual reality – in whatever form you can imagine – will play no small role in this trend.