Is VR Training in the Workplace The Future Of Upskilling Sales Teams?

We’ve heard a lot about the Metaverse lately, especially with Facebook changing its name to Meta. So we were thrilled to get our hands on a VR headset – the Oculus Quest 2, to try out in meetings, events and corporate training. Now, we’re not talking about online learning – where you turn on a webcam, set a whimsical virtual background and converse in the chat window; we’re talking about a fully immersive virtual reality training experience. We know VR training isn’t exactly new for professionals like surgeons and soldiers – but in the corporate training world, VR training technology has started to be implemented in industries like retail, logistics, and customer service using virtual training in the workplace to improve their performance. This revelation left us with a question, is VR Training in the workplace the future of upskilling our sales teams? Let’s find out.

Also read:

What is Virtual Reality Training?

Virtual Reality Training uses digital simulations of specific professional scenarios for training purposes by allowing learners to interact with them through an immersive headset and pair of controllers. Learners move, look and speak freely in their 3D virtual setting while interacting with other employees, instructors or virtual environments. It takes away any sights, sounds and distractions of the “real-world” to fully engage the learner with either 100% simulated programs, pre-recorded videos or live virtual interactions. 

Further on, we’ll consider examples of different uses for VR training, but first, let’s explain the two types of VR: 

  1. 360° Video — An environment created from a recorded video shot with an omnidirectional camera to provide a 360° “real-world” view.
  2. Full Virtual Reality (VR) — Uses a fully simulated interactive environment. 

‘I hear and I forget. I see and I remember.

I do and I understand.’

 Xunzi (340 – 245 BC) a Chinese Philosopher

What are the benefits of VR training in the workplace?

Before beginning the process of deciding whether to invest in VR training, many seek to understand how it adds tangible value to their operation and revenue. Discover several benefits to adopting VR training in the workplace below:

Also read: Importance of Training and Development in the Workplace

1. More cost-effective than traditional in-person training methods

Sure, the upfront costs can look a little daunting, but overall in-person training methods would still cost more than attending a pre-recorded Virtual Training Session. Once you’re all set up with equipment, applications and content – the license fee for virtual training is often quite reasonably priced when compared to in-person training. Don’t forget, as VR makes its way into the mainstream, headsets and software will become cheaper as demand rises.

How much does virtual training cost?

The short answer is, it depends. Virtual reality training programs can be costly, but how much it costs will depend on what you require in terms of program and content customisation for your team. Some pre-recorded virtual sales training programs start at $250 per learner, but if you need something custom built for your team, you can expect that price to go up drastically. Aside from software, you’ll need to invest in VR headsets that individually can range anywhere in quality and price from as low as $50 to $1500.

2. Provides a unique learning experience

What we like the most about VR training, is the immersion. No distractions. With this headset on, you’re immersed in your virtual world, when you look around, you see your virtual event space – not your computer, not your email, not the notifications on your phone. The immersion really helps to eliminate distractions that we all know can come up when someone is learning in front of their computer.

3. Remote training and accessibility

If you have an international team spread out worldwide, you can bring each individual together to undertake team training together. Businesses no longer need to get employees together in the same physical space. Professional training has never been more accessible while still being immersive.

Ultimately, E-Learning has helped, but…

E-learning has been monumentally helpful, especially since the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic took hold when many professionals started to work remotely. It’s highly accessible and convenient to use. It allows the learner greater autonomy to skip materials they already know and understand alongside the flexibility of choosing how and when they study these materials.

Virtual Reality training is filling the remote gap.

VR is more than just an immersive interactive experience; it’s a “real” environment where learners can fully develop soft skills, engage in advanced scenario-based learning and technical practices that once could only be done in-person and on-site; usually at high costs for the training provider.

So – what’s the difference between AR and VR training?

Confused between AR and VR and how they’re used to deliver effective workplace training? Let’s explore their differences in detail below:

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality training in the workplace works by using a VR headset connected to software that immerses the learner in an interactive or non-interactive simulated environment. This immersive environment is then used to teach learners how to perform certain aspects of their job that could be considered too risky in real life, safely and controlled, with no risk to the learner.

Augmented Reality (AR)

In comparison, Augmented Reality is an extension of “reality technology” (XR), an umbrella term used to describe technology that allows you to “add to reality” by superimposing texts, images, video and 3D models onto the world with mobiles, tablets and AR glasses that overlay the digital interactive elements exactly where the user is pointing the device.

How to use VR Training in the workplace (+Examples)

While VR technology might have been born from gaming, the reality is that virtual reality innovations are shifting more and more into business applications. Below, we’ve illustrated several ways you can use virtual reality training in the workplace.

1. Soft Skills Training

When many are still observing social distancing measures, business leaders everywhere are struggling for innovative ways to train employees in new skills, upgrade existing capabilities and complete compliance training while watching as the skills gap widens.

However, the biggest challenge for leaders is supporting staff to improve soft skills that require interaction outside of their remote environment – with a whopping 59% of surveyed hiring managers, and 89% of executives reporting difficulty recruiting candidates with the requisite soft skills, such as communication, resilience, stress management, sales, teamwork, and leadership, it’s fair to say there needs to be a new way to train employees that desperately need these skills without having to be in-person. 

That’s where VR training is bridging the gap. So much so that the PwC VR Soft Skills training Efficacy Study found VR training achieves this in an accessible and affordable way while allowing learners to feel they’ve had a meaningful experience.

Learn more in this in depth-video below by Scott Likens from PwC teams and the Harvard Business Review. They discuss how to use virtual reality (VR) to boost employees’ people skills in a webinar – sponsored by Oculus for Business.

2. Virtual Reality Sales Training

The possibilities for VR Sales Training are really exciting. Companies can either use pre-recorded VR scenarios, or if the budget allows, recreate their showroom or head office in virtual reality, so VR training can be delivered in a familiar space. Imagine getting virtual reality sales training in a digital version of your showroom, where the trainer can walk over to one of the products and start talking about it as they train. Or a sales person being able to practice selling their products in a digital version of their store.

Here are some of the uses and benefits of using VR to train sales teams:

Enhance e-learning

E-learning has always been a fast, effective and affordable way to onboard new hires. The thing that has always been missing from e-learning is the ability to practice these new skills in a safe environment. That’s where VR can come in, to add a practice element that mimics real life scenarios without the need to have a live partner to practice with or a trainer to lead the activity.

By using a combination of e-learning and Virtual Reality, new hires can learn new skills with minimal downtime and minimal supervision. VR sales training is mostly used in combination with e-learning, not all training would be done in VR.

Practice real life scenarios through role-playing in virtual reality

To maximise retention of new skills, learners need to practice new techniques they’re taught. This is often done through role playing. By incorporating VR, learners can use a virtual environment to practice. There are existing VR role playing simulations that include live sales pitches in a boardroom, 60 second virtual elevator pitches and even virtual reality exhibition scenarios. VR role playing allows practice to happen without having to rely on another person to partner and interact with, instead the learner interacts with the virtual environment.

Using AI to test and analyse learners’ performance

Some VR training software incorporates Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse the learner’s tone of voice, their eye contact with different prospects in the room, the amount of filler words used and the pace of speech. This takes away the need for a trainer or coach to be present to give feedback, instead the leader only needs to read the report from the AI to decide what further development might be needed.

How to use VR Training in the workplace

3. Employee Collaboration

It’s essential to promote positive relationships, even when staff are working from home. While many leaders and managers are content with the current status quo of collaborating with remote employees through video chat, VR technology is transforming how remote coworkers foster a sense of alliance previously reserved only for a traditional office setting.

4. Virtual events & exhibitions

We’re all used to online events and conferences these days that we attend through our computer, but what if all attendees attended in virtual reality? With companies like the one that leant us the Oculus Quest 2, your attendees don’t have to buy their own, instead, you can arrange for everyone to borrow a headset for the event.

The options available for an event set in virtual reality is where things get exciting. Companies can have their own custom space with stages and breakout rooms built. Participants can take a seat in the crowd and the virtual event speaker can present slides and draw on a whiteboard to illustrate their points. Participants can choose what breakout room they want to go into, then join in the live discussion there. Some companies have even included a DJ booth, virtual bar or had an artist put on a concert as part of their virtual event.

Challenges of adopting VR training in the workplace

Many companies might find the initial investment of purchasing headsets to facilitate virtual training in the workplace to be expensive. The good news is that there are cost-efficient options out there, such as the Oculus Quest 2 or even headsets that use the learner’s mobile phone as the screen.

However, some have found that the price wasn’t the only barrier to the adoption of its use – some employees might not even want to get on board with the technology. Although the sole purpose of introducing VR training in the workplace is to benefit employees – there is always a risk of employee backlash if not discussed beforehand.

Thinking about taking the leap and getting stuck into VR training in the workplace but don’t know where to look for a suitable VR headset? Check out our recommendations below:

Oculus Quest 2

It’s easy to use and comfortable to wear and allows you to experience 360-degree content with a sharper resolution than its predecessor. However, note that if you’re not a fan of Facebook, it may not be for you as it requires you to connect to Facebook and has introduced ads.

Platform: Standalone

Price: $299 USD

Reasons to buy: Immersive experience, comfortable

Reasons to avoid: Can cause motion sickness, has advertisements, requires signing in to Facebook

HTC Vive Pro

This VR headset is worth considering if you require high resolution, realistic, and astounding image quality. It comes with built-in headphones and soft nose guards to help block out as many distractions as possible. The only real downside is that the set-up is complicated as you need to install lighthouses to track the HTC Vive Pro in the space you intend to use it in, alongside the fact that it’s one of the best headsets currently available.

Platform: PC

Price: $799 USD

Reasons to buy: High-resolution display, Built-in headphones

Reasons to avoid: expensive VR headset, difficult set-up, headphones crackle

Merge VR

The Merge VR is great for those looking for a more inexpensive VR headset; while initially designed for kids, it is also compatible with many different types of phones, making it one of the most accessible VR headsets. 

Price: $50 USD

Reasons to buy: Inexpensive, easy set-up, easy to use, and soft foam interior makes it comfortable for long periods of use. 

Reasons to avoid: The industry is moving away from headsets that use phones in favour of all-in-1 units.

VR Software for the Workplace

Take a look at some of the most popular VR software available for companies to help with everything from collaboration, vr training to virtual events:

Arthur

One of the apps that can be used for this is called ‘Arthur’, although there are a lot of different software options available for virtual events. With these, you can have a virtual office space where you can meet and collaborate with your team or an events space to hold training sessions or events.

If you’ve got a team spread around the world or working from home, as is often the norm these days, imagine being able to meet virtually in the same virtual room and talk and collaborate while using a virtual whiteboard if you want. 

Mursion

Mursion virtual reality training allows learners to “master the complex interpersonal skills necessary to be effective in high-stakes professions.” Unsurprisingly, they support organisations in various industries with custom training programs such as healthcare, education, hospitality, finance, and the corporate sector. Overall, Mursion provides a wide range of immersive and authentic workplace environments to simulate challenging interpersonal on-the-job exchanges, enabling learners to improve their performance in a safe environment.

Oculus for Business

Oculus for Business is both enterprise-ready and user-friendly. It focuses on eliminating the physical barriers and discovering powerful new ways to train, collaborate, and boost productivity with VR training in the workplace. Oculus for Business is built on an enterprise-grade infrastructure that adheres to stringent data security standards and provides straightforward device management and advanced support, making it effortless to adopt and scale throughout your organization.

Final word: Is VR Training in the workplace the future of upskilling sales teams?

While VR headsets have been primarily used in the mainstream for gaming so far, we’re looking forward to seeing them used more in virtual reality training in the workplace and making virtual events more of an accessible and immersive experience.

However, until VR training in the workplace becomes more common, the cost will remain high – especially if you require a custom program designed specifically to your business’s needs. But as the effects of the pandemic continue to encourage remote work, VR training in the workplace will become an essential and practical investment for many businesses.

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