Engaging your workforce in learning and development activities pre-pandemic was a relatively simple task. Employees would gather in a meeting space (either on-site or off-site) and work with each other and a trainer to learn the skills necessary to perform their job duties at the highest levels.
Beginning in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of work fundamentally changed. The inability to travel and employees shifting to working remotely put an abrupt halt on bringing everyone together to execute traditional training sessions, which continues to present challenges for chief learning officers and other training personnel for organizations across the country.
The question currently arising in many boardrooms is how to provide effective training under these altered circumstances because they show no signs of slowing down any time soon. The answer, in keeping with the trend toward allowing employees to “work from anywhere,” is to shift L&D opportunities to a “train from anywhere” approach. To facilitate this new mode of training, more organizations than ever before are seeking to use virtual reality technology to allow employees to train from where they are.
Shortcomings of traditional modalities
As the pandemic forced more workers to abandon offices for the relative safety of their own homes, the shortcomings of traditional training modalities became largely exposed. The ongoing training that kept employees engaged with career growth opportunities and skill enhancement became ever-more difficult to deliver.
After all, in-person training is impossible to do when employees can’t assemble in the same place, and one-size-fits-all training sessions no longer adequately meet the needs of employees or employers. CLOs sought innovative learning modalities to allow for customized training for employees even under the unusual conditions imposed by COVID-19. VR opened up new possibilities on both fronts.
The interactive nature of VR boosts retention of the information employees are tasked with learning. According to a study published in the journal “Research in Learning Technology,” using VR/AR training improved retention significantly, and learners reported they remained more engaged with the training materials than traditional instructor-led training or video training.
Taking advantage of VR/AR
The idea of “training from anywhere” was a new one to most CLOs. It requires out-of-the-box thinking and creative execution. Before VR technology became readily available, it was difficult to even envision such a future. Fortunately, advances in VR technology now allow organizations to reach employees wherever they are.
Not only can you use advanced hardware and headsets, but you can even access VR training content through a computer browser and even your smartphone. This flexibility ensures that all learners are comfortable with their learning experience while being immersed in training content.
This same flexibility extends to learning content creators as well. By using the same modality and tools, L&D professionals can deploy training that covers a wide range of topics — spanning from foundational soft skills to the more specialized technical skills.
Your L&D team can train your learners on communication and leadership by using VR practice role-play activities on their own. They can use a headset, computer or phone to learn key concepts and put them into practice in a safe learning space.
Then with the same equipment, you can train a different team on equipment repair and allow them to explore equipment parts and how to fix common issues. This can also be done with a headset, computer or smartphone, and protects employees and equipment from potential damage while training.
It also allows them to repeat scenarios several times to hone their skills and build confidence that they know how to do their jobs proficiently and effectively.
Finally, VR training puts the training schedule in the hands of the employees and allows them to learn at their own pace in their own environment. It also allows them to repeat scenarios several times to hone their skills and build confidence that they know how to do their jobs proficiently and effectively.
Giving learners the freedom to train where they want and when they want empowers them by putting them in charge of their training and career growth.
Updating training to meet the new reality
In a world where workers are no longer in the office all the time, innovative organizations are looking for opportunities to change the way they train their workers. One of the most effective emerging technologies is VR/AR training to meet the employees where they currently are and help them to retain the information more efficiently and effectively.
It’s time to update your training modalities to meet the moment and improve the way your employees are learning. VR/AR technology can help you build those bridges to a bright tomorrow.