As we shift to a different way of working, with teams and departments in multiple locations and even individuals or groups situated across the world, remote collaboration for Enterprises is an essential tool for a variety of situations.
We have seen a rapid take-up of tools to enable this kind of collaboration, including messaging apps for real time communications and video conferencing for meetings, but these solutions do not necessarily provide the optimal experience. For individuals and groups, they can remain a poor substitute, leaving them feeling distant from the collaboration process and isolated from their peers.
These approaches also struggle to recreate certain scenarios, such as team workshops, onboarding new team members or training for any remote worker. However, with 86% of CEOs suggesting that remote collaboration is a lasting shift in a recent PWC survey, there is a need to find new ways to maintain a connection with a disparate workforce, and here VR offers something unique.
VR takes away distractions and immerses the user into the virtual world. In the case of enterprise remote collaboration, this could be a virtual office, training room or other meeting environment, where team members can interact in a virtual world as they would in the real one. It provides an engaging and immersive experience that cannot be matched by traditional tools.
However, while this technology is crucial in building collaborative environments that engage and support a distributed team or allow departments on different continents to work closely on projects, it will be unfamiliar to most if not all users, and so adoption must be carefully managed to ensure that the advantages of VR are fully realized.
The best practice for implementing VR
There are logistical challenges in delivering a remote VR experience for any team, not least because of the equipment they must first receive and then learn how to use effectively. This is where things begin for an integration protocol, finding the right equipment.
Identify hardware and software solutions
As with any technology-based solution, having the right technology can make all the difference for the successful adoption of VR-based tools. There are a number of headsets on the market today, and it is recommended that a number are trialed with a variety of your team. Higher refresh rate systems tend to avoid the sense of disorientation that early VR had, with more people finding them comfortable.
It is arguable that your software solution is even more important than the hardware, as it is the software that brings the virtual world to life and creates the tools and environment for collaboration. There are a number of options again and trying several solutions can help determine which features and style suits your business.
For your systems admin team and the end users, having adequate testing will ensure a smooth, effective experience once launched. It is important here to listen to feedback and adjust things as you go to optimize the overall experience for all.
Testing shouldn’t just be limited to the VR experience, your team may be complete novices with this technology, chances are most of them will be, so everything from receiving the equipment to setup, software installation and more should be tested to ensure that the onboarding is ready for your users. This includes having adequate support available to help new users if they run into issues.
Create Optimized VR Spaces
The key benefit of VR is it provides the ability to create your own environment for collaboration in a tactile, engaging way. Think about the tasks to be accomplished inside VR and create environments to support them.
Before roll-out of the technology, make sure that you have the support systems in place for users. For many, VR can be a little intimidating, and not having answers to questions or assistance with setup will only exacerbate that. This can include drop-in remote training sessions that get users comfortable with the software and hardware before they begin using the equipment for collaboration.
Together, these processes can ease many of the teething problems new VR integrations can face, creating a smooth transition to VR collaboration using appropriate tools and software to deliver a seamless experience for users.
VR in Practice
One area where VR is seeing rapid adoption is in training. This makes sense, the shift to remote working has not negated the need for effective training solutions, whether that is ongoing training or for new employees and team members.
The immersive environments of VR allow team members to learn faster, and gain a greater insight into any subject, process or system. Effective training is crucial for employee retention as well as ongoing team performance and offers significant cost savings compared to tradition on-location training solutions.
A great example of this in use is Siemens, who have over 385,000 employees and operate more than 300 production and manufacturing facilities around the world. They have used VR to implement crucial health and safety training, creating a virtual factory to highlight the potential threats around a production facility. By using VR, employees are able to see the dangers and risks much more clearly, learning faster and gaining a greater understanding.
Aside from training, one industry that has seen significant adoption levels is construction. With buildings modelled in VR, stakeholders at all levels can view, walk around and interact with the structure, even holding meetings within the proposed building itself. Global construction services company ISG have embraced this technology, finding success at many levels.
This approach not only speeds up the approval process, but it also allows issues to be spotted well before they are implemented, reducing errors and rectification costs during the project too. Teams can connect and review progress both before and during the construction without needing to spend time on site or travelling to specific locations. It is also used as an ideal safety training aid for management teams as the project progresses on site.
Perhaps the most innovative integration of VR into the collaborative process is found at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. Here they use the ability of VR to connect people regardless of distance or circumstance to aid patients. Children with ongoing health issues can connect with others going through similar experiences, negating one of the most common issues that patients encounter, that of feeling isolated.
This same technology can be used for all types of collaboration, including teams and other groups in professional environments. The robust, easy to use system caters to children of all ages, and illustrates how simply it can be integrated into any environment.
The important thing for VR integration is that there is no one size fits all solution. Finding the hardware and software that suits your needs and teams is the key to success with VR. With that carefully chosen infrastructure and an effective support system that gives users confidence, VR collaboration is proven to be an effective, engaging system that brings your remote teams together in a way that a traditional video conferencing and text communications system simply cannot.