Since virtual reality was invented in the 1950s and rose to popularity in the 1980s, it's a question that people have been asking.
Is virtual reality everything it’s cracked up to be?
Growth around VR for business purposes has fluctuated over the past few years, so a lot of people are still seeking an answer to that question.
Is virtual reality the future of work or not?
With the desire for virtual reality surging again, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Companies, especially those with remote and distributed teams, are finding more use in VR than ever before. With VR, teams are finding that there's more social interaction, an environment that makes it easier to focus, and opportunities to actually have fun and connect as a team.
That’s why virtual reality technology is here to stay, and for remote teams, it’s going to be a serious game-changer.
How Will VR Technology Transform the Remote Team Workspace?
Remote work is now the norm for many industries. As a result, the need and desire for more collaborative, innovative tools are higher than it’s ever been. Virtual reality provides the perfect solution to remote work challenges, and the market is quickly expanding.
Here are the indicators that VR technology for remote work is here to stay...
1. The Market For Work-Specific Wearables Is Growing
For remote teams, a critical part finding success in a virtual environment is the technology. The picture needs to be smooth and the audio must be clear. It needs to feel like a seamless experience. Major technology companies like Microsoft and Google are solving this, releasing new wearables to enhance the VR remote work experience even further, such as:
- The HoloLens 2 - Microsoft's HoloLens 2 is due to start shipping later this year.
- Oculus Quest - SuperData predicts that Oculus’ next-generation standalone headset, Quest, will be a hit and forecasts sales of 1.3 million units, thanks to “high consumer interest.”
- Samsung Gear VR - Hooks up to Samsung phones for the ultimate mobile VR experience.
- Google Daydream View - Integrates with apps, can also use for VR for work technology.
With virtual wearables, the in-world experience is more immersive, a trait that is essential to any virtual environment. These wearables make it easier and more fun to use VR for business.
2. The Benefits Of VR Are Eclipsing Video Conferencing
Even companies like HubSpot are making the business case for VR over more traditional remote tools, such as video calling. One critical point is that despite the benefits of video conference calls, most video conferencing software "has struggled to scale interaction," according to HubSpot Senior Marketing Manager Janessa Lantz.
However, AR/VR is an experience "that doesn't isolate you [and] allows you to interact with the world and people around you," says Anjney Midha, the co-founder & CEO of Ubiquity6. You can use VR conference rooms for more interactive presentations and fluid conversations.
Overall, unlike existing remote working tools, a virtual collaboration space that uses VR gets everyone in the same space.
3. VR Improves Team Focus And Efficiency
Whether you work remotely or in a shared workspace, there is no limit to the distractions you encounter. When you use virtual reality and wearables, you can block a lot of those distractions out, creating a "bubble of concentration."
As Cory Ondrejka, the co-creator of Second Life, VP of engineering at Facebook describes it, virtual reality is ideal for business because of our ability to evolve in 3D spaces.
"You can name and locate 1,000 things scattered around an apartment, but you can’t remember the file structure on your computer or the files on your desktop. We are very good at remembering spatial environments. VR has the advantage of being able to plug into that," says Ondrejka.
4. VR Spreads To Multiple Industries
Virtual reality is already being used by a lot of industries for physical, educational, and therapeutic purposes. For businesses, this is incredibly promising, as a few industries that are finding tremendous use from VR include:
Fitness and Health
Popular gyms like 24 Hour Fitness are testing VR for spin and yoga classes, piloting what they call "immersive fitness." Immersive fitness uses sound and visuals to put exercisers in different, exciting virtual environments like jungles, deserts and fantasy worlds. A lot of the students find the experience motivating and more energizing than typical classes.
"With this class, it's an IMAX screen and a narrative," says spin student Frank Ferrante. "Going through the jungle, going through the water, going through the fire and associating that with what's going on in my own life -- I push myself that much harder to transcend that."
For distributed teams, immersive fitness could also provide opportunities to take part in virtual physical team-building activities.
According to CNN, 6 million students in the US and beyond have experienced VR-based lessons, such as virtual field trips to far-off, typically hard-to-reach destinations. The use of virtual reality helps make basic lessons more engaging for students.
"One minute, they are learning about Roman history, and the next, they are transported to ancient Rome and are exploring the Colosseum," says Guido Kovalskys, chief executive and co-founder of US-based EdTech company Nearpod.
A company with distributed workers can use this technology to further professional development, giving access to remote conferences and workshops.
A lot of nonprofits, such as The Dolphin Swim Club, are finding creative, innovative ways to leverage VR. The Dolphin Swim club, for instance, uses VR goggles to help people with disabilities virtually swim with dolphins.
The technology makes it possible for students to gain the benefits of swimming with dolphins, which is believed to be therapeutic.
“It takes them away from the world they are in, they enter a new world in another mindset, think differently, feel differently, see differently, and relax completely," says the organization’s policy advisor Johan Elbers.
The potential team-building opportunities with this type of virtual reality are endless. You can virtually bring your team together to experience highly immersive, engaging experiences.
The Future Of Virtual Reality
Companies can use VR technology to connect their distributed workers in one central location, acting as a virtual HQ or co-working space. With the right virtual tool, teams can connect and collaborate like never before.