The COVID-19 pandemic has changed quite a few aspects of all our lives. One of the most significant changes is the way we work.
Suddenly, teams were divided and dispersed. While the trend towards remote work was already becoming increasingly popular, the pandemic turned this from “optional” to “must” overnight.
Multiple workforces relocated from purpose-built offices to home settings, and from attending real life seminars to online webinars with very little time to plan the transition.
Video conferencing became the ‘go-to’ replacement to drive businesses and projects forward. It is easy to use, accessible to all, and allows people to replace their meetings with something that was almost the same.
But is video enough to replace our social interactions? Within months, people noticed that the ‘floating heads’ solution had its drawbacks.
However, virtual reality can help counteract these problems!
When the user puts on a VR headset, they are completely immersed into a virtual world. For example, this virtual world can be representational of physical workspaces and is a shared space with others. This allows people to replicate in person meetings, anywhere, anytime.
Sharing a physical space is the base of body language. When someone is speaking, humans have the propensity to turn towards the speaker , using body language and gestures to build social bonds. In essence, these nuanced aspects of communication are what makes us uniquely social beings.
This can be replicated in virtual reality in platforms such as ENGAGE. People are virtually present through avatars, meaning that their gestures are mirrored in the virtual world. This sense of body presence encourages the user to proactively take part in the session, and interact with other people, akin to real-world interaction.
But this interaction is not restricted to social interactions. In ENGAGE, avatars can interact with 3D objects, can share media, brainstorm and plan with sticky notes and move around their environments, dividing into smaller groups for conversations and networking with the use of spatial audio. As humans we recognize these features as similar offerings in our tangible world.
Soft Skills in Virtual Reality
Soft skills are typically learnt on the job, or through formal vocational qualification routes through interactions with colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders. Without the ability to facilitate in person interactions, delivering soft skills to employees and students is challenging. To date, business, industry and the education sector have relied on video conferencing platforms to convey information and learning. But there are limitations.
How do employees practice their presentation skills? How can students practice employability skills? One possible solution is virtual reality.
Virtual reality comes up trumps as a medium for soft skills training. Allowing an accurate replication of an array of workplace interactions, virtual reality reaches far beyond the constraints of videoconferencing tools. With a wealth of scenarios and environments to practice teamwork, presentations, leadership, etc the possibilities are limitless.
The Learning Loop is a start-up soft skills virtual reality training and education company through the ENGAGE platform. Working in partnership with industry and educators, The Learning Loop builds accredited soft skills training to complement existing vocational qualifications. Using gamification and simulation, students and employers can enjoy immersive, exciting, and inspirational learning.