How Augmented And Virtual Reality Are Transforming The Workplace.

When it comes to succeeding in business today, you’ve got to make bold, decisive moves about technology adoption. Indecisiveness often means falling behind – and in today’s world of work, that’s something no business can afford.

Being decisive at adopting technology involves not only identifying the right emerging tools and emerging technologies to implement into your recruiting process, but also, ensuring you’re able to leverage every feature and function required to maximize the impact of that technology – and use these changes to your full advantage.

Doing so will inevitably increase your functional flexibility, enhance your employer brand and make the biggest impact on bigger business results – and that’s the bottom line.

An emerging technology category that’s still in its formative phases is virtual reality and augmented reality (that’s VR and AR for short), and the fact that these two technologies seem to be widely neglected within the enterprise or HR Technology space reflects that the industry is taking a “wait and see” approach to adopting or leveraging these capabilities.

Yes, it’s early. But when it comes to AR and VR, don’t wait.

Because it’s better to be on the front of the adoption curve than falling behind, and if you choose to wait to use these solutions to enhance your business, you may soon find that you’re already too late.

 Technology and Workplace Transformation: Not so fast.

Technology is only as effective as the people using it. And how well those people are actually using technology, of course, is shaped by whether or not they’re actually using it or not. A big part of end user adoption is driven by a single, simple question: “Will this make my job easier?”

Adoption only happens if it’s a means to get to an end, and that end is always effective if employees are incentivized to use a new technology through actually having it add value instead of complexity, and save them time and effort rather than create it.


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They have to get the point of the software, period, or else the rest becomes an exercise in futility, functionally speaking.

Most employers, historically, choose technology based largely off of its future potential than its present product, a misperception of how what’s shiny and sexy will actually help solve real and persistent business challenges, and how adoption will impact their end users and business continuity.

We rarely think about reality, choosing products based off our perceptions rather than their practical application for helping employees and making their world of work work better.

Using this employee-first framework makes it easy to understand just how profound adopting VR and AR in your workplace will mean to your employees, and why today isn’t too early to start seriously looking at these technologies of tomorrow if you’re in recruiting or talent acquisition.

Augmented and Virtual Reality: The Real Difference.

Universum Global recently published a study in conjunction with research from INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, The HEAD Foundation and MIT Leadership Center, which evaluated how various new and emerging technologies are likely to influence business.

Prominent among these topics, of course, were VR and AR.

While we haven’t fully explored the potential applications of virtual reality in the workplace, some obvious possibilities include improved teleconferencing, situational interviewing abilities, improved delivery for on demand and dispersed L&D courses, skills training and testing – among many, many others.

Augmented reality, unlike VR, provides digital details to augment and enhance, not replace, the world around you. It’s not an immersive environment, but is rather designed to immerse you into your real environment, providing insights and information about what you’re already seeing IRL, in real time.

One common application of AR is finding places like nearby Bars and Restaurants (Yelp’s Monocle is a good example of this); this means if you happen to have a smart phone and had the correct layer displayed, you could easily find out what your dining options are around you, what their menu and hours are, a full price range, reviews and a ton of other rich data that could help make up your mind where to dine.

In the workplace, AR can help workers potentially stay up to date on important company communications, announcements and news; provide profile information and rich data on clients or prospects during a sales call, or share real time insight on optimizing workflows or continuous performance feedback delivered directly while the employee is on the job.

How awesome is that?

Despite the splashy rollouts of sets like Google Cardboard or the multi-billion dollar acquisition of best-in-class VR device Oculus Rift by Facebook, consumer adoption of VR is still very low.

Research suggests that while only 3% of the general population has adopted virtual reality, nearly a third believe that this technology (which most haven’t even tried, mind you) will transform their workplace in the next decade. Similarly, VR was identified by Generation Y and Z workers as the one technology with the most potential impact on business in the years to come.

What these statistics did not reveal, however, is how this technology should be applied. One possibility is that VR and AR could lead to improved work-life balance and greater flexibility, with more people working from home or moving more easily between markets.

The assumption, of course, is that this is the end result most workers want most. Universum found, however, that Generation Z actually prefers working from an office, and puts a premium on interpersonal interactions.

So, depending on your employee composition, embracing VR or AR might actually alienate you from the very part of the candidate population you were targeting in the first place, which might not only hurt your brand, but also erode the relative success of your VR and AR initiatives.

Virtual Reality and the Real World.

Whether or not your organization ultimately adopts virtual reality, augmented reality or both, the key to business success is to make sure those realities are aligned with those that actually exist within your organizations and those of your internal stakeholders.

When investigating VR or AR adoption, reach out to employees, hiring managers and candidates alike to ask their thoughts and solicit feedback, advice and guidance on the best way to leverage these emerging technologies – or if you should even start.

You’ll be surprised at how many will be willing to share their thoughts and provide you with the information and insights you’ll need to create a roadmap for AR/VR success.

The important thing is to listen: use their feedback to guide you about where you should apply VR and AR, where you should ignore it and what impact these technologies make on their ultimate experience and business results.

The result of this exercise should lead to an improved workflow, a stronger employer brand and a culture that embraces technology and uses it to make work easier, instead of forcing it onto employees and turning tech adoption into a chore.

If you’re a company that gets tech, well, there’s a good chance you’ll get tech talent, too. And every other candidate who cares about using the latest and greatest (hint: that’s most of them, really).

This, obviously, is rare enough to provide a competitive advantage that can be a salient selling point to top talent and current employees alike.

But no matter how you use AR and VR, remember, if it doesn’t help really make recruiting really better, then that’s one reality check you’re going to have to check on, first.

Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in learning more about how Gen X, Y and Z workers see the future of technology and its impact on the workplace, click here to download a complimentary copy of Universum Global’s newest ebook, State of (Un)readiness.

About the Author:

Jonas Barck is the Chief Marketing Officer for Universum Global. Follow him on Twitter @Barck or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Jonas Barck


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