Not least due to tiring web meetings and increasing "Zoom fatigue", virtual reality has powerfully penetrated our everyday lives. Professional virtual collaboration platforms on standalone VR headsets such as the Meta/Oculus Quest 2 or the PICO Neo 3 glasses now enable full immersion in a simulated world.
With photorealistic or self-designed avatars and the use of controllers, an attractively designed environment enables a "felt" real movement. By immersing yourself in such a virtual reality, the outside world is completely shielded.
In contrast to augmented and mixed reality glasses, which project information and objects into the real world, VR glasses completely hide the real world, and thus promote the penetration into an alternative space of experience. The focus on the content and the complete reduction of the numerous distractions and interruptions in our working and learning world enable intensive learning experiences and constructive work results in a shorter time.
There are now efficacy studies and meta-analyses from the field of psychotherapy research that demonstrate the strong effect of immersive experiences on the human brain and psyche. This depth effect through VR technology and the feeling of physical proximity to other avatars can be used as an effective amplifier in the business context. This is mainly due to the high sensory, and thus also emotional intensity of the immersive experience which significantly increases the probability of neuroplastically effective learning experiences. If the conditions are met, VR can become a tool of unprecedented effectiveness.
A study published in 2020 by the consulting firm Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) on the use of VR in soft skill training confirms the clear advantages of this technology in relation to leadership skills training, according to which learning in VR was four times faster than after a face-to-face training of the same type and emotional connection to the inputs experienced in VR is 3.75 times higher on average compared to face-to-face training. This emotional intensity has a decisive influence on the biochemical and genetic processes underlying neuroplasticity and enables long-lasting learning and change processes.
However, it must be mentioned at this point that one of the most common mistakes in practice is to implement VR events in the same way as face-to-face training. In addition to professionalism in terms of content, suitable VR didactics with knowledge and experience of neuropsychological effects and technological handling are necessary for the successful use of the proven effect. In other words, trainers should be aware of the effects of virtual reality on the brain and acquire the necessary skillset to use VR professionally.
Immersive experiences appear to make it easier for participants to engage in interactions, as human playful nature facilitates inquiry-based, self-reflective, and experiential behavior.
Efficiency and sustainability, as well as significant time savings, testify to the high economic relevance of this technology. In fact, in its Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2022–2026, PwC predicts VR to continue being the fastest-growing Entertainment & Media segment, with gaming content as the primary contributor to VR revenue. It is expected to bring in US$6.5bn in 2026, 85% of total VR revenue.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also advocates the integration of the technology and already imagines a future in which employees will naturally receive VR glasses in addition to their laptops to increase the efficiency of internal processes. Experience has shown that meetings in VR are more stringent, workshops are more concentrated and creative, and regular meetings in project management or in an agile context are more effective.
When running VR events, you should pay attention to the following factors:
- Ask for evidence of the professionalism, scope of training and experience of VR providers. Target group-specific practical experience and safe handling of VR technologies are particularly important to give the participants the necessary psychological security. Or get yourself certified if you want to use VR profitably.
- In addition, the provider should master and be able to offer a selection of different VR platforms so that you can have the best possible application scenario designed.
- If you do not have your own VR headsets, it is best to work with a professional rental company whose task it is to deliver the fully furnished and equipped VR headsets, medically disinfected, to the participants and then organize transport back.
- Each participant also needs sufficient broadband internet access and since the high effectiveness and the unusual handling of VR requires an increased energy requirement of mind and body, you should plan preparation and break times for the participants.
By Daniela La Marca