The first industries to adopt virtual technology for their training needs were those with high-risk working environments: construction, energy or industry and manufacturing. But what about if Virtual Reality(VR) training can prevent baristas from getting burnt whilst learning how to make coffee? Or stop those working at height from injuring themselves?
The corporate world is certainly catching up to the trend of low-risk, high reward VR training. It’s being already tested and deployed by companies like Walmart, KFC, UPS, and McDonald’s and more recently, Google experimented with VR training to see whether it could beat face-to-face training in the art of how to make an espresso.
“We were excited to find out that people learned faster and better in VR. Both the number of mistakes made and the time to complete an espresso were significantly lower for those trained in VR” – Google
However, there were some things VR was unable to replicate. Like the danger of standing too close to the steam nozzle.
“No matter what warning we flashed if someone virtually touched a hot steam nozzle, they frequently got too close to it in the real world, and we needed a chaperone at the ready to grab their hand away. This suggests that VR technology isn’t quite there when it comes to learning some skills.” – Google.
Whilst this can be seen as a mark against VR training it highlights an important strength: employees learning through VR are not put at risk in the same way as those learning on the job. Industry analyst Khin Sandi said, “VR training prevents risks associated with training hazards such as safety of trainees in the dangerous workplace or accidental damage of equipment.” They also found that nearly all companies that use VR training methods find that they save up to 80% of their time, both in the learning environment but also on a more practical level: reducing the amount of time spent traveling to and from training locations.
Businesses in North America spend between $200 and $400 per year training their employees, with 19% of employees getting 1-2 weeks of training. This alone means they could reduce training days spent away from the office to just 1.5 – 3 days. Not only this, but telecommuting can save American businesses roughly $3.9billion per year in fuel costs.
Add this into the fact that Virtual Reality is expected to generate $260 million in 2018 and grow to a shocking $6.3 billion in 2022 suggests that more and more people are jumping on the VR bandwagon. So why are only 6% of companies investing in virtual reality as a training tool?
Perhaps it’s time for more businesses and training providers to jump on the VR training wagon and embrace the benefits of a safe, virtual learning environment.