5 Top trends for VR in Employee Experience
Xavier Delgado Anglada
Technical Product Manager, Expert in Digital Workplace and VR
A lot of articles have appeared lately explaining XR trends for the coming year, always from a generic point of view. In this article we want to focus on the case of companies, and how those companies could use VR solutions to enhance their Employee Experience.
Why is employee experience important?
Today, a new generation is joining the workforce. There are currently five generations living together in the workplace, with each one of them having their own expectations and values that need to be fulfilled. In order to retain talent and create the workforce of the future, companies must be aware of the different needs each generation has.
Ever since the pandemic started, new events have hit the world in different ways. Comparable to the Great Resignation, trends tend to start in the USA and, gradually, end up moving towards Europe. Employees everywhere are rethinking whether their jobs match their values, and, as a consequence, they are expecting substantial changes in their organization, their schedules and other aspects related to work. These changes are crucial for employees, and if they do not take place, the risk of losing talent skyrockets.
Therefore, today, focusing on the delivery of a successful and engaging employee experience is more important than ever, using all the channels available to connect with the different generations and providing the change employees are expecting.
Why is XR important to employee experience?
In a similar way to how the Digital Employee Experience and the Digital Workplace have started to define new ways of working, new technologies, like XR, create new opportunities to enhance collaboration, communication, and trainings for employees. XR technologies could potentially be more impactful than the other digital experiences when applied correctly, creating a more engaging employee experience while providing other benefits, like significant cost reductions, or the improvement of the employees’ skills with a more efficient training solution when compared to the traditional Learning Management System (LMS).
Top 5 trends for XR in Employee Experience
As mentioned, applying XR to activities and processes related to Employee Experience can significantly impact how organizations embrace XR and include it as a new channel in their Employee Experience Journeys.
VR Onboarding Processes
Organizations have started seeing potential in VR technologies to provide coherent and collaborative onboarding processes. The onboarding could be considered part of a VR training but given the importance of that process in the employee experience journey, it deserves a more detailed approach than traditional VR trainings.
VR onboarding experiences could be gamified allowing organizations to create more memorable moments to reinforce their values, practices, and goals, providing a unified message.
Some parts of the onboarding could be guided VR experiences that guarantee that the messages shared to all employees are the same, allowing to make those experiences repeatable, so that they could be reinforced and adapted when necessary.
Adding an XR Event during the onboarding process, with speakers from top companies that share valuable information regardless of their location is a great way to connect knowledge and organization values in a fun and impactful way, allowing new employees to ask questions and get valuable information from the most relevant people in the industry.
XR is a new channel that could help companies provide a memorable touchpoint with employees. Though we must not forget that, when combining it with presential onboarding activities, as well as with other digital channels, it can serve as a great approach to reach all employee generations and reinforce the process as a whole.
Trainings supported with VR technology are not a new trend for this year, but we firmly believe that organizations will continue growing their VR training capabilities, maintaining them as a relevant topic still in 2023. The implementation of VR trainings, compared to classical e-learning courses, will allow organizations to create learning experiences that provide training in a practical-like environment. Simulations thought as a new way of training that could combine several technologies in a VR experience, aimed at achieving near-to-reality training scenarios, otherwise difficult to be organized in-person in a cost-effective way.
Chat-GPT has taken the world by surprise, providing new abilities, previously thought to only be human-like. When thinking on VR training experiences and how current AI capabilities could be integrated, a lot of opportunities appear: Smart NPCs (Non-Player Characters) that could have a conversation (similar to a real in-person conversation) by adding chatbot capabilities, Digital Assistants that support employees during along all the training experiences, and that could be used anytime a user requires support, simulating phone conversations with call centers. These are just two opportunities among the many that emerge every day, in this fast-paced rhythm market subject to constant evolution.
VR experiences connected to existing corporate LMS is another topic, it being a priority for L&D (Learning & Development) areas. VR Trainings need to track user activity, and could be used to evaluate skills acquired, among other relevant information that could be used by L&D areas to manage and increase talent within an organization.
VR Corporate Events
Companies are slowly discovering the benefits of organizing corporate events in VR spaces. It provides the opportunity to connect talent worldwide, creating a better impact when compared to conferencing tools. The feeling of being present when using a VR Device guarantees the attendees focus, removing distractions that could affect the event’s success.
VR Events are evolving, providing features that integrate events with the rest of the digital workplace solution. Here are some examples of solutions that are evolving in VR Events:
Live streaming from VR Events with a complete virtual production studio allowing to add cameras and produce quality contents in real time.
Support for scaling events through instances and broadcasting of presenters, videos and other synched content between experience instances. Features evolved because of VR Events having to deal with technical limitations in the number of concurrent users.
Avatar expressions, emotions, and reactions; key to allowing employees to provide live feedback about the VR events attendees and speakers, generating more engaging experiences migrating solutions already used in social media and porting it to VR experiences.
Creating virtual spaces for collaboration is another solution that, applied to the correct scenarios, could take advantage of the focus that can be created when using VR Devices. VR has been used for meetings for a long time now, but VR Workplace could go beyond meetings, allowing employees to do creative and innovative research inside VR.
Collaboration sessions where the attention of the connected users is important could be reinforced using VR technologies, as an employee in a VR Workplace experience won’t be distracted by mobile use, notifications nor e-mails. Users will be fully focused on the present moment, as any surrounding distraction can be avoided, or, at least, reduced. A good example are agile daily meetings, when desktop conferencing systems are used, and attendees can easily be distracted doing other chores, instead of paying attention to the meeting.
But to create a workable VR Workplace experience, new tools need to be created to make it efficient. Note taking, sharing content from the digital workplace and dynamic boards to collaborate need to be added to overcome the constraints existing in VR devices. This implies that VR needs to focus on the integration with platforms like Office 365 to create a seamless experience, integrating, now more than ever, the VR into the digital workplace space.
“Metaverse” is, without a doubt, one of the buzzwords of the year. Its concept has raised a lot of interest recently, and companies are starting to discover its benefits and how the Metaverse could help with the relationships between organizations and their consumers. On the other hand, the Corporate Metaverse is not only about creating a new channel for consumers, as it is also about creating a space that extends the employee experience and can be considered another channel in a modern digital workplace, being a part of a complete omnichannel employee experience strategy.
A corporate metaverse needs to act as a single-entry point to all VR experiences; including corporate events, training, organization information like an intranet in the Web-based digital world.
While entering the metaverse from a consumer perspective is still complicated, as no standards has been agreed in the industry, modern organizations could start their metaverse journey through a corporate metaverse, oriented to employees, that complements the overall employee experience journey.
This approach will help organizations to be prepared for the consumer metaverse, while using it to increase the employee engagement and use it as a tool to retain talent within the organization.
When organizations analyse VR as a technology, they tend to focus only on the consumer side. Trends like the Metaverse are really consumer oriented, but, in 2023, the technology is more prepared to overcome challenges that organizations have around employees rather than consumers. VR training has successfully demonstrated that it can create a more memorable experience helping employees to retain better the contents, if done correctly. When applied to practical training, this solution overcomes cost and risk constraints existing in in-person training. The corporate Metaverse will become the entry point to all VR digital workplaces, complementing the existing digital workplace platforms in a natural way, while also connecting with all the trends discussed previously in this article.
The VR technology is ready, devices nowadays are affordable and standalone devices provide an increase in usability when using VR devices. Now, it’s time to embrace VR as a new channel in the employee journey in modern organizations.
If you would like to know more about the Metaverse and other VR solutions offered by NAKA, an NTT Data corporate VR solution, please contact us here: