Virtual reality is fast on its way to becoming the defining technology of the current decade. That’s a fairly serious label, and it will have competition when we look back in another 10 years. But already we’ve seen VR progress from a fun adaptation of an old idea aimed at gamers to a multi-functional technology with implications across – essentially – our entire way of life. It’s not quite time to buy in yet to the science fiction vision of the near future in which we’re all strapped into VR all of the time. But at the same time, it’s probably appropriate to get used to the idea of VR easing its way into your life, and this will be happening in the workplace as well as in your personal space and time.

There may in fact be dozens of things that change about the workplace of the near future as VR is implemented to streamline practices and improve atmospheres. For now though, these are three of the changes you should expect to see.

1. More Remote Work

Most of us think about virtual reality all wrong. We think about it in terms of actions. For gamers, it’s what it might be like to shoot an alien in virtual space; for artists, how to paint on a canvas that doesn’t exist; for film lovers, how to approach an iconic character in a simulation. These are all thrilling aspects of the technology. But if we really look at how it’s evolved thus far, the core of it is environment. Some of the most impressive trajectory in this regard can be seen in the particular game genres that comprise online casinos. Digital slot reels, once undeniably bland, made waves by advancing to 3D just a few years ago, and have since already moved on to virtual reality. The technology took a flat, boring style of gaming and turned it into an interactive experience in which any individual title could provide its own unique surroundings for the player.

That may seem oddly specific, but think of it in the context of workplace communications and remote contributions and imagine the leaps you could make in VR. We’ve already turned telephone calls and emails into live chat spaces (like Slack), conference calls, and remote presentations. But even then you’re interacting with a screen or a line of text, etc. In virtual reality, group participation across distances would be every bit as effective as the leap from 3D gaming to virtual gaming. We would be in the same environment as co-workers, interacting as if in actual space. Surroundings, in this sense, matter, and they’re just what VR will provide.

2. Increasingly Ergonomic Workspaces

Here again, we’re talking about the environment VR can provide, in this case as a sort of test run for organizing a real space. If you’ve been paying attention for the last 10 months or so, augmented reality has actually made a lot of waves as relates to home and office design. The idea is that through AR programs, you can use a simple mobile phone to look through furniture inventories from real retailers, and then position your phone to show virtual renderings of your choices in your actual room. It’s an impressive idea and a very fun way to use AR – though again, here we’re talking mostly about turning something 2D into something 3D.

The next step is the arrangement of whole rooms in virtual space, and/or the ability to browse fake virtual spaces. While this may not seem like the most vital practice for a workplace, the technology will enable those in charge of offices themselves to sample different layouts, test out ideas, and ultimately come up with the most ergonomic, employee-friendly designs for workplaces. And as we know, a better workspace can improve productivity.

3. New Training & HR Practices

Another piece about how VR will change the workplace (which made some excellent points of its own) noted the creation of safe testing and training environments as one of the perks. This is certainly an interesting point, and one that gets past the idea of environmental consideration and into actual office practices. It’s also a simpler point, because the specifics depend so much on what kind of workplace we’re talking about and what sort of work is being done. Speaking broadly however, the pure ability of VR to produce simulations allows for very effective on-the-job training, whether for new employees learning new skills or for existing employees going through HR programs.

Author: freelance writer/content editor Jacob Saunders

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