The continuous evolution of technology is changing the way we work and communicate with others. It’s no secret that today’s workplace looks totally different than it did even 10 years ago. Remote workers and collaboration across time zones and continents became a part of corporate culture. This doesn’t always have a positive effect on work efficiency. Modern problems require modern solutions. An emerging software technology for enabling proper communication is virtual reality (VR) collaboration. It is getting increasingly popular in different business areas.
Stay connected with your remote team thanks to VR collaboration
While having the ability to work from outside the office has been already feasible for the last decades, nowadays working remotely is becoming the norm. Forbes says that 50% of the U.S. workforce will soon be remote. Technology and market need to be made possible, and the options we have for communicating and connecting with others are astounding. We are able to send emails, short messages or use task management applications every day to stay in the rhythm. Things are changing very quickly, so being with your team face-to-face at least once per week makes sure you know what’s going on and where everything is heading. On the other hand, remote employees are not fixtures in ‘alive’ meetings. They are not integrated into backstage conversations or meetups, but they more than makeup for it in their desire to remain connected to others and work efficiently.
Video calls are the simplest way to hold meetings with remote employees. It acts as a reminder that both parties can talk online and allows team members to build virtual relationships. Coworkers who are geographically separated, however, cannot easily connect and align. They experience high levels of social distance and struggle to develop effective interactions.
That’s why virtual meetings have great potential in the meeting industry. Thanks to a number of factors – fast internet speeds, affordable and modern hardware, and numerous offers from VR software providers —the growth has been striking over the last 5 years. Moreover, the worldwide AR (augmented reality) and VR market size is forecast to grow 7.7 times between 2018 and 2022.
Negotiations with international partners without leaving the office
To succeed in the global economy today, more and more firms and startups rely on a geographically dispersed workforce. International growth is an exciting challenge for any business. When team members come from different countries and are working all over the world, communication is deteriorating. Misunderstandings may ensue, so cooperation may rapidly degenerate into distrust. Even video conferencing is not enough anymore and doesn’t help the situation. Especially if you need to discuss visual projects, e.g. prototypes or product designs with your colleagues. Or, another example, you need a task board, so your business partners have to struggle with numerous spreadsheets over screen sharing.
At the same time, collaborative VR allows companies of any size to work together in a completely new way. If anyone can join a virtual reality session from their workplace (home, office, a meeting room or any other place with Internet access) the whole team will have an opportunity not just to meet, but also visualize relevant 3D data. It lets them negotiate faster, more efficiently, and, of course, save on travel expenses.
Why VR is better than a standard video conference?
Jeremy Bailenson, director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, says that as the technology gets more sophisticated, VR business calls will usher in more nuanced nonverbal communication that is lost in today’s video conferences. Researches show that approximately 65% -75% of all communication is nonverbal in nature. The key to using personality types as a strategic negotiating tool is keen observation. We have to be able to look for the telltale nonverbal cues that should point to your negotiating partner’s personality style and communication needs. It can include eye contact, body language, and posture, physical proximity or use of pauses and silence.
Additionally, there’s a lot we can read from other people’s non-verbal signals, especially in business, which can help us understand more about them and even what they are not saying directly. At the same time, if you have a meeting in VR, you are able to share the same sense of place with your team members or business partners, and speak face-to-face.
Moreover, VR collaboration software helps to analyze a new 3D prototype with your colleagues in a virtual space in real-time (even when your colleague is thousands of miles away from the office), and visualize models before they are going to the project work site. VR eliminates distractions due to headsets that are blocking out the real world while displaying a virtual one.
Communicating with international business partners in virtual space helps to create a much stronger sense of presence than video conferencing or phone calls do, and help generate a real feeling of being in the same place as one another.
As it was mentioned before, VR offers tools for collaborative content creation and work product sharing like 3D models and interactive notes that can elevate discussions to the next level.
Make VR collaboration part of your company’s culture
The full acceptance of VR in the workplace may take a few years more, but we are getting closer and closer. This amazing technology helps communicate better and improve the overall way in which business is conducted. Virtual meetings may not replace video or conference calls yet, but they provide extra functions that most task management tools don’t have. You and your teammates put on VR headsets or launch AR devices and all of you are transported to a virtual space at the same time.
For those companies that want to try the benefits of VR based collaboration, many software options are now available. Augmented and mixed reality solutions already exist on the market. They can combine headsets, cameras, and other sensors to create true collaborative virtual or augmented environments.
On the hardware side, offerings from VIVE or Oculus are quickly dropping to an affordable price point. And with software provided by Virtualist enterprises are empowered to share different types of 3D models, walk around the objects, and inspect them from every angle in a collaborative environment hosting unlimited users together.
On top of this, you can save your meeting room to access it at any time later on. So, the question is no longer “when VR meetings will be accessible?” but rather “why not to try it right now?”.