Tom Symonds, CEO, Immerse, considers the impact that virtual reality is having on the L&D sector

The rapid speed of change in technology continues to challenge the way we work, think and interact and most companies have recognised that the digital transformation revolution is firmly underway.  A key component part to a transformation programme is the modernisation of learning and development throughout an organisation.  There is a drive for change in order to meet the digital demands, but it’s not easy to achieve and measure successfully.

Years of research on transformations has shown that the success rate for these efforts is consistently low, with fewer than one-third of organisational transformations succeeding (Mckinsey, 2015). Transformation is inevitably hard, and the pressure is mounting on companies and L&D professionals to evolve their businesses in order to keep up and remain competitive.

The strain on institutions like education and healthcare show no signs of slowing down. In addition to the commercial sector, schools and the NHS alike are frequently under fire to become more efficient and improve staff retention. There has never been a more important time to focus on how technology can step in to revolutionise learning and development for these sectors and beyond.


Capitalising on capital

As an employer, your most important asset is your employees; your social capital. Ensuring that your workforce is continually learning new and relevant skills that align with your company goals and values is hugely important to business success. Not to mention the value of having a team that is satisfied and happy at work due to the company’s investment in their professional growth.

Virtual Reality (VR) is being implemented across the world as it looks to become a solution that revolutionises learning and development experiences for employers and employees alike. Companies across a variety of sectors such as logistics, oil and gas and aerospace are starting to roll out VR training. There is a keen interest in using new technology to improve staff engagement and retention, reduce risk, and measure efficiency and effectiveness of employee training programs.


Work hard, play hard

With VR, a common theme is that the thrill of using a new medium to learn encourages a greater level of interaction, and a stronger sense of eagerness and willingness in staff. A well implemented virtual training system can channel this excitement into a solid new set of skills and increased information retention.

But the benefits of VR-led training don’t stop there. The perks for employers stretch far further than just a more engaged workforce. Every interaction that occurs within the virtual world of training can be reported on and analysed, gathering quality employee data that can help business leaders learn more about their staff and tailor learning and development to optimise effectiveness.


Workforce of the future

Furthermore, as we move towards a globalised gig economy with workplaces offering more flexible working and less presenteeism, being able to distribute training at different times and in different places all over the world reaps many benefits. Multi-user VR allows workers in locations around the globe to collaborate as if they were in the same room. This not only cuts the time and cost of travel but also makes it a great deal easier to schedule for multiple contributors.

Individuals also require different means and levels of training. Thankfully, virtual reality can tailor training depending on the style and depth of learning required. Whether your employee needs a full training session or just a refresh of a particular skill, scenarios can be adjusted to suit their needs. These simulations can then be repeated as many times as required, something that would be both time consuming and costly if replicated in the real world.

Global names such as Rolls-Royce and Qatar Airways have both recently announced that they have introduced virtual reality training and expect it to be “the beginning of widespread adoption of the technology.” There is no doubt that VR training has huge potential to squash many of the issues that arise as a result of the imperative to learn and develop.

The benefits of VR training are both extensive and groundbreaking. A business’s ability to adapt in all areas, including training, has proven to be the difference between thriving and simply surviving, as the world continues to be disrupted by technological advancements.  It’s time to get on board.