The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most disruptive events to ever challenge business leaders. However, it’s also presented a whole host of new opportunities for digital transformation at the same time. 

Social distancing and lockdown measures have accelerated the growth of remote work whilst putting a fresh emphasis on emerging technologies and employee experience models. Companies may be working to adapt their offering to customers in the conditions of the ‘new normal’ age we find ourselves in, but there are some significant changes to the way workers are trained, retained and how they collaborate with colleagues. 

With this in mind, emerging technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality could rise to the fore as a means of keeping teams engaged in the post-pandemic landscape. 

(Image: Forbes)

As the data above shows, both virtual reality and augmented reality technology is being adopted at a much faster pace for enterprise purposes than for consumers. This means that both VR and AR will become more prevalent in workplaces than in households over the course of the decade. 

With this in mind, and considering the influence that the pandemic has had in accelerating digital transformation, let’s look deeper into how both virtual and augmented reality will impact businesses in terms of optimising collaboration and engagement in the future: 

Collaboration in Virtual Reality

As more businesses face up to a future of working from home, virtual reality is making strides in recapturing the essence of business meetings. According to Annie Eaton, CEO of Futurus, video collaboration such as Zoom calls and Skype meetings “still is not quite as personal a connection as being in a room with someone in virtual reality, where you have 3D space. I think that VR will be a great way to reduce the amount of travel that’s required for business.”

Virtual reality can help teams to collaborate in real-time whilst forging a more personal connection than what’s possible through video conferencing. This can help employees to bond better and improve the quality of their communication online with colleagues who they may not actually ever meet in person. 

Platforms like MeetinVR are present-day examples of how virtual reality technology can be developed to create rich, engaging and immersive meeting experiences among teams. The sharing of information can be made easier as visualisations can be placed anywhere within the environment whilst individuals can interact with one another using virtual avatars. 

(Image: ProductHunt)

Virtual reality can also pay dividends in the product development process, where accurate 3D renderings of concepts can be displayed for teams to virtually walk through and collaborate over. 

As technology like VR headsets become more accessible and cheaper to construct, it’s likely that we’ll see virtual reality become a natural progression for businesses aiming to retain a vibrant collaborative workforce despite teams working from the comfort of their homes. 

Upholding Company Values With Virtual Learning

Augmented reality can also be a valuable tool in enabling employees to uphold company values and culture. Particularly for new hires, it could take weeks or even months to fully learn everything there is to know about an organisation – and this process is only made harder by the rise of working from home (WFH)

However, AR technology could be used for new employees to embark on a company scavenger hunt around their new office environments, or to interact with their new workloads. Through the use of camera-enabled devices, employees can scan real-world or on-screen images to generate facts, lessons or tasks that are interlinked. 

Through AR image recognition software, users can engage in the content to learn more about their new company, its culture and the values it upholds. For instance, there can be embedded videos introducing new hires to team members, or interactive maps for orienteering games, or mini-quizzes to recap the things learned while taking a tour of the company’s software. 

AR For Upskilling Employees

Sometimes, existing employees also need to be upskilled when new technology arrives or refreshers on legislation surrounding the company are required. AR can help to revolutionise this process in an entirely engaging way. 

As existing employees are likely to have already undergone the onboarding process, a key challenge for employers may involve keeping them engaged while undergoing upskilling training. Augmented reality has the potential to do this in a way that’s immersive enough to help workers retain the information they learn. 

For instance, one example of a strong AR training programme can be found in the case of Just In Time. This software uses tags to implement onsite instruction points for maintenance staff at a property company. Each tag can be scanned on a smart device to reveal a relevant training protocol. This can allow maintenance staff to receive their training as and when they require – without the need for hours and programs to be set aside for physical refreshers. 

Both virtual reality and augmented reality are growing at a rapid rate in the world of enterprise, which is convenient because, as businesses seek out ways to adapt to COVID-19 disruption, engaging technology may be more essential than ever.

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