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How Augmented Reality and VR Training Can Improve Your Corporate Training Programs

If you think virtual reality (VR) is all fun and games, you could be missing out on a powerful way to train your employees. Augmented reality and VR training can help you fill in the gaps when your employees need to level up their skills. It can be particularly helpful if you have a primarily remote workforce. Find out more about how to implement virtual reality training into your company.

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What are augmented reality and VR training?

This type of work training uses VR and augmented reality technology to simulate work situations. It’s an interactive way to train your employees on specific situations, which could be job-specific or general training concepts. VR training typically uses headsets that immerse employees into work scenarios and allow them to test out or learn skills that apply to that situation. Augmented reality training uses devices such as phones and tablets to add digital objects and features into the real environment. Employees can interact with those digital objects through the software to practice different skills or experience various situations.

Benefits of implementing VR training

VR training might seem mysterious if you haven’t used it before. You may find yourself wondering if it’s really worth it. Looking at the benefits can help you decide if you want to pursue this training option.Some benefits of using VR training include:

  • Interactive experiences: Employees may be more engaged in the training experience when they’re using virtual or augmented reality tools. This can make training more effective and enjoyable.
  • Realistic scenarios: You can explain all types of possible scenarios employees might face, but it’s not always easy to imagine them until you experience them. This training technology lets employees experience those situations instead of just hearing about them.
  • Replication of dangerous situations: While employees can better understand how to handle dangerous situations when they go through them, you don’t want to put your employees in harm’s way. With VR training, you can immerse them in those dangerous situations without any real risk to their safety.
  • Cost-effective: Mistakes in some industries, such as medical and construction, can have costly consequences. VR simulations let employees practice skills where mistakes are common, helping them build their skills without costly and potentially dangerous real-world consequences.
  • Monitoring opportunities: Many VR training programs offer monitoring opportunities, both for real-time monitoring and recording so you can review it later. This helps you better understand your employees’ skills and see how they’re improving through the training.
  • Flexibility: With VR training, you can cover any type of skill you want to teach your employees, from employee onboarding training sessions to continuing education.
  • Efficient: This type of training is often faster than other methods since it’s interactive and helps maintain focus. Faster training can reduce employee downtime and save money on training costs.

Potential drawbacks of VR training

It’s always good to look at both sides of any business decision. While VR and augmented reality training offers many benefits, there are some potential drawbacks that could become barriers. Being aware of those disadvantages can help you avoid them. Some drawbacks include:

  • Cost: You’ll need to invest in VR technology initially to implement this strategy. However, if you already have training costs, making the investment in VR could save money in the long run, depending on your industry.
  • Getting up to speed: As with any new technology, this training option comes with a learning curve. Your training staff will need to learn how to use the technology and how to implement it effectively, which can take some time.
  • Physical effects: This type of technology usually involves wearing goggles and using screens extensively. Some people might experience some physical symptoms, such as headaches, motion sickness or eye strain. Limiting how long your employees use VR can help minimize these effects.

Ways you can use virtual reality training

A key advantage of VR and augmented reality training is the ability to customize it to your situation. You can use it for almost any type of training in the workplace, and you can use it differently for different groups of employees. Some types of training you can do with this technology include:

  • Onboarding: When you onboard new employees, you have a lot to cover to get the up to speed. VR and augmented reality can help them absorb all the training more effectively.
  • Job-specific skills: You can use this type of technology to expand job-specific skills or give employees a refresher on skills they use regularly.
  • Soft skills: It’s also possible to use virtual training opportunities to improve soft skills, such as communication, negotiation and public speaking.
  • HR training: Most companies have regular training requirements for things such as diversity, harassment and other HR topics. Putting those topics into a VR situation can help employees better understand what qualifies for different types of infractions and issues.
  • Safety: Creating a safe, secure work environment starts with training. By conducting safety training with virtual technology, employees can experience dangerous situations without being in danger. Being able to practice those dangerous situations can help employees feel better prepared if they actually face them.

Strategies for implementing virtual and augmented reality training

Deciding you want to incorporate virtual and augmented reality training is a big first step. If you’re not sure what to do next, here are some strategies that can help you implement your new training program more effectively.

1. Have clear training goals

Knowing what type of training your organization needs can help you plan an effective VR training program. A training needs assessment can help you clarify specific types of training you want to include. Define specific goals and outcomes for different training opportunities to help you plan your VR sessions. This knowledge can help you choose the right VR equipment and develop successful programs.

2. Choose the right equipment

You can choose from a variety of VR headsets, software programs and vendors. They each have different features and vary in how comfortable and easy they are to use. Keeping the process as simple as possible helps your employees get more out of the training and reduces downtime. You also want a program or vendor that offers the type of training you need and can customize the training to fit your needs.

3. Designate training spaces

This type of training often requires a dedicated space. Employees need space to move when they’re using the headsets, and they need a space where it’s safe for them to do so. You also want a space where training won’t interrupt other employees.

4. Balance VR training with other methods

Limiting the time spent using VR and augmented reality methods can give you better outcomes. Some people may feel physical side effects from using the equipment, especially if they use it for long periods. Using it in smaller bursts throughout a training session can help your employees feel better physically. It can also help keep this training method interesting, as too much of a good thing can get boring over time. Balance these technology options with other traditional methods of training to create an effective, well-rounded program.

5. Monitor the program

While this type of training offers many benefits, the outcomes can vary based on how you use the technology and how your employees respond to it. Monitoring the VR training program helps you determine how effective it is and if you’re getting a good return on your investment. Many programs have built-in monitoring so you can assess how your employees’ skills improve.

6. Consider alternatives

Keep in mind that not all employees are excited about using VR or augmented reality. People who don’t like technology might resist. Others might feel self-conscious wearing a VR headset while others could feel sick using it. You can encourage your staff to use these training technologies and nudge them outside their comfort zone, but you might also want to have alternative training options for the people who are completely opposed to it. This allows them to gain the same skills and knowledge in a format that’s comfortable for them.

7. Generate excitement

The way your employees feel about training opportunities often comes down to your company culture. Creating a culture that values learning can help generate excitement about your new training technology. Start with your management team, showing your excitement to them to help get them on board. Showing enthusiasm for the program and making it a fun, positive learning experience can make the training more effective.

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