Once only found in innovation labs and military simulations, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies have proven to be a useful tool to educate, design and train. As prices continue to decrease, VR and AR are becoming a cost-effective strategy as well. The technologies have found their way into the standard workplace, and in industries from education to manufacturing, banking to automotive, the world’s largest employers are discovering that they can revolutionize their learning and operations and save money at the same time.

While the technology dates back decades, practical uses of VR were hard to find and expensive – until now. Big-name providers are developing their own economical VR systems, which will considerably decrease prices. Gartner predicts, “To drive real tangible business benefit, enterprises must examine specific real-life scenarios where VR and AR can be applied to make employees more productive and enhance the design, training and visualization processes.” Large organizations realize that increasing productivity and improving employee training are critical but struggle with costs and employee retention. Here are three significant ways that using VR/AR will save businesses money.

Safety

The National Insurance Crime Bureau predicts that workers’ compensation claims are costing businesses billions of dollars each year. When it comes to physically challenging tasks and dangerous environments, virtual reality is an instrumental tool. Simulating real-life situations avoids risking training-related injuries and accidents – a win-win for organizations and staff. In fact, UPS recently used VR for driver safety training to protect its employees and the communities they serve.

Convenience

Travel for training and some meetings may soon be obsolete. Using virtual and augmented reality, organizations can save both time and money through remote gatherings. In most cases, this approach can eliminate the need to bring employees together physically, allowing workers to train in place and more often. By using this approach, companies can reduce lost work time and the costs of large training facilities, lodging, airfare and meals.

Reducing the Skills Gap

HR professionals agree that a lack of qualified applicants is a consistent pain point. With immersive technologies like AR and VR, workers can learn high-skilled tasks more quickly, improving employee engagement and overall retention. VR allows trainees to model certain skills in a simulated environment, empowering employees to improve their skills without taking up real resources. In addition, traditional training methods end at the conclusion of the training day. With VR/AR, employees can train more often, improving their knowledge and retention. For example, Honeywell recently introduced VR technology training to its workforce to speed up new employee training and real-time customer service, bringing Honeywell clients immediate help as part of their service contracts.

By offering improved productivity, training and job site safety through the hands-on and real-time nature of VR and AR, the impact and reach of the technologies are significant for the workforce and the bottom line. While there are still some barriers to full adoption, such as cost, usability and reluctance, technologies like AR and VR continue to make inroads across industries.

What does the future hold? As many are still recovering from the mobile revolution, our world has begun another true technological shift, and the applications of AR and VR are still being realized. This technology will eventually influence our daily lives as the smartphone did – in the workplace and beyond. And, as with previous digital revolutions, prices will decline, accessibility will improve, objections will subside, and organizations will fully explore and discover what a VR/AR experience will truly look like for their workforce. It is certain that this technology isn’t going away any time soon, especially when AR and VR cures two of the most ongoing pain points for businesses: employee skills and financial growth.

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