The possibilities of tech innovation are so vast and the applications so broad that it’s hard to predict the precise ways in which AR and VR will affect the workplace. Although the scenario of people working from within alternate digital realities conjures up an image of a cold disconnected social structure, this will not necessarily be the case. In fact, AR and VR could improve the way we communicate, educate us, and make our work more challenging and more creative.
If you think we’re still far away from the integration of VR and AR in the workplace, you’re wrong. In 2016, around $5.5 billion was spent on development in this sector. By 2020, only four years later, that number is estimated to grow to $162 billion.
Of course, there are big differences between augmented reality and virtual reality. While VR is an all-encompassing immersive experience, AR offers another layer of information to what we perceive in our surroundings.
This core difference will define how these technologies are applied to job situations. For example, AR can be an invaluable tool for work that requires physical engagement such as in manufacturing.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways augmented and virtual reality could change the future of workspaces…
Next Level Global Interaction
It’s become completely commonplace for professionals to work with colleagues from all over the world. The same goes for services and their clients, and in fact any business interaction. Yet, we’re still relying on fairly primitive interfaces when it comes to connecting with our remote counterparts.
VR will be central to making international collaboration far more fluid and in a sense, even more personal. With VR, you’ll experience sitting with the person you’re interacting with, despite them being on the other side of the planet.
Enhancing Employee Education
The potential for employee training using both VR and AR is huge. People learn better through interaction and are more likely to remember things that they’ve tried themselves than just read in a manual. AR could train employees in a simulated and secure environment while providing relevant information every step of the way.
An AR training program could present new information in context and in a captivating way. Lessons could be recalled at any time. This also takes the pressure off existing employees who are often responsible for showing newcomers “the ropes”, even though they may be very busy with their own tasks.
Focusing the Mind
Distractions can be a major concern when it comes to productivity. Some of us find it harder to concentrate in open spaces than others. Virtual reality will allow us to completely focus on our tasks with no outside interference. With an office space organized with both secluded and more open areas, virtual reality could provide a much wider range of mental states that people could choose to work in.
A Connected Company Culture
VR will help create a new playing ground for interaction within a company. This could allow for a new type of company culture that is far more connected and personal. People are more productive when they feel part of the organization, and teamwork improves greatly. VR provides a myriad of options for creating a more collaborative and open work ecosystem and can lead to boosts in efficiency, creativity and employee satisfaction.
We’re on the threshold of augmented and virtual reality making a huge impact on the way we work. The technology is advancing quickly and companies that take a proactive approach to adopting it will be in position to reap benefits on multiple levels.