The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a glimpse into what the future of work look like. Pre-pandemic, many more businesses had the idea that employees worked best when they were together in a building, each working the same hours in the same place—at least for the most part. However, one of the many lessons COVID forced upon the workplace and the workforce has been that remote work is actually pretty effective for a lot of people and for a lot of different job types. What could make remote work even more effective, though? Continuously advancing technologies that facilitate collaboration—like VR (virtual reality).
According to new research from Fortune Business Insights, the global VR market will exceed $84 billion by 2028, up from $4.42 billion in 2020 and a projected $6.3 billion in 2021. The study suggests market growth will be due to VR technologies’ ability to immerse people in simulated experiences, and those experiences are not just for entertainment purposes. Rather, VR-enabled experiences can be very valuable for businesses looking to conduct virtual training, assistance, maintenance, and other activities with their employees. Fortune Business insights points to the rising demand for virtual training in industries like automotive, education, healthcare, aerospace, and defense as examples.
Each year, businesses spend billions of dollars on corporate training initiatives, not to mention the time cost involved in conducting employee training. With immersive-learning solutions powered by VR, businesses can dramatically reduce these costs and the associated time commitment while actually improving employees’ learning quality and retention—some estimates suggest retention improves by up to 75%.
VR can also play a role in bringing people together even when they’re physically miles apart. Facebook recently launched the open beta of Horizon Workrooms, now available for free download on Oculus Quest 2. Workrooms leverages VR and the web to enable collaboration, communication, and remote connection for an entire team of disparate people. The remote-workplace solution integrates mixed-reality desk and keyboard tracking, hand tracking, remote desktop streaming, video conferencing integration, spatial audio, and Oculus Avatars to create “a different kind of productivity experience.”
A few features make Workrooms different than a traditional Zoom call, including the ability to share participants’ personal workspaces using the Oculus Remote Desktop companion app. Team members can also use gestures and/or the Oculus controllers to add notes and other markings in realtime to an infinitely large virtual whiteboard within the virtual meeting place, which, by the way, is very configurable depending on a team’s particular needs. Advanced spatial audio technology also makes it feel like participants are in an actual room with other people, because voices come from where a participant is “seated” in the virtual room.
The solution currently supports up to 16 people using VR and up to 50 people total when including video participants (team members without VR can join virtual rooms via old-fashioned video). Horizon Workrooms may not be a perfect replacement for in-person meetings, but it’s a good step in the right direction. Leveraging VR to make collaboration more seamless and natural is going to be an important part of the future of work, especially as businesses look for ways to leverage technology to cut costs and improve operations.
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