Real uses of Virtual Reality in corporate training

Benefits of VR in corporate training

In corporate sector, training the new employees or training already working employees to adapt newer ways and means both are very important aspects. Effective training gives definite results. If training sessions are boring, then employees will never take interest in it and will be attending all of them for just a formality. How to make the training sessions interesting has become a subject of research nowadays. Being an essential part of the corporate life, training builds the employees for performing the desired and allotted work efficiently. But when there is a lack of interest, then how an employee would be an asset for the corporate industry?

Different experiments are carried out by different corporate giants to fully engage their employees in training. Those who have got success in this task, somewhere used VR in their training sessions. In this revolutionary era, while VR is helping in almost all the sectors of the industry, why should corporate stay out of it?

VR usage in corporate training is steadily increasing its share. A number of companies are exploring VR as a supplementary tool for corporate training and you could find yourself being trained in VR sooner than you think.

For those who don’t know what VR is, then let you all just be briefed that VR is an acronym of Virtual reality which immerse a user into a simulated environment so that they feel like they are actually there. Virtual reality can further be classified into three core parts: Mobile (with mobile phones), Standalone (With cables and devices) and Desktop (with high end computer devices).

The argument for VR in corporate training is simple - it can increase engagement and knowledge retention levels, and employees can be trained in a safer, more cost efficient way.

How VR is helpful in corporate training?

Image Source: Google

The above image shows an approximate idea of VR aided training.

From print media to the internet, we can see information becoming richer and easier to access. Virtual Reality, a sophisticated technology that uses realistic images, audios, and other senses to simulate a real environment, is an elite technology which has contributed towards a vast change in the learning system. The environment experienced when using Virtual Reality is simulated, but the learning impact is real.

Let’s take an example of nuclear reactor operator’s training. It is too difficult to train the new operators for operating the nuclear reactor on reality bases. A small mistake of a learning operator, which is quite predictable. Rather training with the help of Virtual reality creates completely an imaginary nuclear reactor and training of an operator is done with that imaginary environment only. All the consequences of a mistake are visually programmed and an imaginary anarchy is created so that the trainee gets an exact idea of it! This reduces the money involved in training as well as makes the trainee understand the consequences very clearly. The operator, before getting deputed at his place, has real time knowledge of operating the reactor.

This is just one example of VR in training. There are many innovative ideas we can generate with the help of VR to make the corporate training more interactive and more interesting. This can be understood with the help of one other example as follows:

Image Source: rigzone.com

Take in account the above picture. Suppose, at the oil refinery, emergency sirens begin to wail. A shift supervisor races to the scene of the emergency and sees smoke already billowing from the roof of a distillation unit. He needs to get the fire under control, but when he opens the door to the control room, a wall of flame greets him. The situation is worse than anything in his training manual. How can he locate the shut-off button when he can’t see through the flames? He hesitates—and in that moment, the pressure built up in the distillation tower releases in a massive explosion, ripping apart the building and scattering debris across the whole refinery.

A red message flashes before the supervisor’s eyes: Simulation failed. A voice comes over the intercom and says, “All right—let’s take two minutes, and then we’ll reset from the beginning.” He is covered in sweat as he takes off the headset. It had been a virtual reality (VR) simulation, but the stress was real; more importantly, the lessons on how to respond to a crisis had been real.

Why VR should be used for training?

Virtual Reality allows to replicate any possible real-life situation without the risks, damages or consequences possible in everyday life. Thus VR is the perfect medium for industrial training as it allows us to create an immersive solution that save you money and that benefits your employees.

Benefits of incorporating VR in Corporate training
  • Higher understanding and higher retention: VR enables employees to learn through practical experience. Experiential learning has long been argued as the most effective way to learn and studies have shown that learning through experience increases the quality of learning, and retention by 75-90%.

    Image Source: Virtualspeech.com

  • Training is safer without any physical hazard: Virtual Reality for workplace training is important particularly where employees need to handle physically challenged tasks or work in dangerous environment. In addition to flight simulation training, even pharmaceutical industry avails the benefits of VR where doctors can practice using simulators to prevent medical accidents.
  • It’s cost effective: There are many training courses that involve actual use of learning resources. But, sometimes it happens that resources are limited or expensive to buy in huge amounts. In such scenarios, the use of VR comes into place when modelling resources in a virtual environment enables learners to improve their skills without having to use them in real.
  • Convenience: Virtual Reality makes learning environment more convenient by saving organizations’ time as well as budget. Employees don’t need to travel to attend training programs and can take up courses at the point of need. For instance, architects across the world can assess their designs using VR and collaborate further without any hassle.
Use cases of VR in corporate training
  1. BP (An Oil Refinery Company) partnered with with Igloo Vision to train their employees in start-up and emergency exit procedures at their oil refinery in Hull, England. Employees were able to learn from mistakes in the virtual world and thus reduce the probability of making the same error in the real world - an error which could ultimately cost someone’s life.

    Chemical engineers training inside an Igloo Vision dome (Image Source: Google)

  2. Surgeons at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles (CHLA) partnered with Shauna Heller and a team of developers (funded by Facebook’s Oculus VR division), to create training for how to treat children in emergencies. Specifically, their simulation helps doctors learn how to save infants who have suffered a seizure or are in anaphylactic shock.
  3. Military training perfectly goes with Virtual reality. The Virtual Squad Training System (VSTS) at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii use wireless VR training environments as part of their military training. Trainee soldiers are given a head mounted display, motion trackers, and wireless weapon controllers that accurately reflect the size, weight and shape of real military weapons such as the M4 and M165. They are then immersed in a combat simulator and can learn by practical experience, without putting themselves or each other in potentially fatal situations.

    Image Source: Google

  4. VR training can also be used to improve the recruitment and onboarding process within a company. Using an interview simulator, HR professionals and managers can practice asking interview questions to potential candidates and learn the questions typically asked, skills to look for, and warning signs about a potential employee.
    Once a candidate has accepted a job offer, the next step is the onboarding process. Onboarding is the first experience of training an employee receives and it can give them a good idea of the training they can expect as they progress with the company.

    Interview practice in VR can be extended to train HR professionals.

  5. Wal-Mart has made a major investment in VR. Through its partnership with STRIVR , the company now offers VR training in all its retail Academies. The training covers a range of topics, including how to staff the deli counter, selecting and hiring people, and many operational processes. More than 140,000 Wal-Mart associates will go through these programs.
Barriers in adopting VR as a training tool
  • The short term cost of implementing of VR in training is higher than that of conventional training methods.
  • Also, after purchasing VR tools, it is mandatory to program our desired training methodology and related environment in it. This task again needs the help of expert programmers. And in case of system crash, service persons must there in standby mode. All these engagements need further investment. However, ROI (return on investment) is higher than conventional methods.
  • Of course, the main reason for introducing VR training is to benefit employees but there is a risk of employee backlash, especially from older generations who tend to be more reluctant to adopt new technologies.
Future of VR in corporate training

Companies all over the world are using VR as a tool for training at their respective places as VR provides a realistic and safe training environment for employees. As the VR industry develops and more becomes possible in a virtual setting, it’s likely that more training will be done in VR.

Corporate training will be an important step into mass consumer adoption of virtual reality, as more people realise it is beneficial to so much more than gaming.

Summary

While only selective Learning and Development professionals integrate Virtual Reality in eLearning, technology is yet to redefine how we learn and train. We discussed the niceties of Virtual Reality in potential learning environments. Integrating VR with online learning applications can be taken to the next level of workplace training. The actual use of the web needs to be embraced when providing custom eLearning solutions and leveraging advantages of this dynamic virtual environment. Virtual Reality imparts a sensory-driven interactive environment which increases learners’ interest and understanding by providing a certain degree of reality which cannot be achieved through 2D interface.

Virtual training environments allows the trainees for trial and error as many time they want to. Whereas with conventional training methods, more amount of trial and error costs more amount of money. In this context, VR in corporate training will be proved as a revolutionary change. Let’s hope for the real future for this virtual tool.

Keyur Bhalavat Founder and Director

A young entrepreneur full of intellectual energy and concern that transform into an untiring center of knowledge seeking, unafraid of exploring new and fresh ideas however challenging they may happen to be in the field of technology.