Remote staffing has become an increasingly popular method of employment, which means that employers can recruit on a global scale. This allows for a diverse range of skills and knowledge within the work force and improves the overall satisfaction of the workforce. However, questions have arisen about the workforces’ connections with each other, and if virtual reality can promote such connections.
Remote staff are employees who do their jobs from a location other than a central office operated by the employer. These locations can be from the employees’ home, private office or a shared space, and can be across countries. Remote staffing is an effective way to scale companies as well as to find their ideal talent to build their products and services. This method of work can have many advantages for both employer and employee, such as an improved work-life balance due to the elimination of lengthy commutes, which leads to less stress. Furthermore, remote workers have reported an increase in their productivity when working remotely compared to in an office, with a significant improvement in productivity observed in May 2020 during the height of the pandemic (Kazi & Hastwell, 2020). This was due to the elimination of the commutes into the work building, as a well as the comfort of working in a preferred environment. Additionally, the company is saved costs, such as rental costs of office spaces, and they are also able to retain employees due to work flexibility and less feelings of micromanagements. This in turn, increases the employees trust and positive feelings, which may not be as possible when working in the central office.
What is Virtual Reality and how can it Build Connections?
Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment which can be interacted with in a seemingly real way. This allows for high levels of immersion, which can provide a distraction free environment and improve learning, retention, and concentration. Due to the high levels of immersion and presence, virtual reality can increase levels of social interactions due to the employees being in the shoes of their avatar. This means they can relate to and express themselves with their preferred avatars. Furthermore, due to the employees being embodied into their avatar through sensors in their headset and handheld controllers, they can physically gaze and interact with each other. This creates an almost real-life atmosphere while in the comfort of their own familiar environment. This can also make the conversations within virtual reality more memorable due to the custom environments that can be implemented. This is known as participation-based memory, where individuals who are attending a conversation on a screen do not pay as much attention to the conversation compared to those who engage in one in virtual reality (University of Maryland, 2018). Moreover, it has been noted that virtual reality team building exercises are more effective compared to traditional methods due to virtual reality decreasing levels of anxiety within individuals (Camara & Hicks, 2019; Harris et al., 2002; Robillard et al., 2010) as it allows for a safe, virtual environment in which employees are able to collaborate together. Overall, this helps to create and maintain connections between employees and employers as it provides an almost realistic environment with reduced levels of attention loss and stress.
The Importance of Mindfulness
Not only can virtual reality help to build connections with fellow employees, but also with oneself. This is through the use of presence with themselves, allowing for mindfulness. These virtual environments allow for interoception, which makes the individual increasingly aware of their own body and signals due to sounds and visual cues combined within a relaxing environment (Seabrook et al., 2020). Mindfulness can help employees to cope with stress, which in turn can assist in them controlling their behaviour and moderate their responses. This can improve an employee’s overall work satisfaction, and therefore improve their productivity and quality of their work.
How does VRE Help Build these Connections?
Here at Virtual Reality Experiences, we implement custom training and team building platforms in order to meet the employees and employer’s needs. This allows for effective training within the virtual world, which can be successfully applied in the real world. Furthermore, our team building programmes are effective in building connections between employees and employers as they allow for virtual activities, which have been seen to be more effective than traditional team building methods. Additionally, virtual meetings can take place in a variety of custom environments, which allows for greater retention of the information apparent in the meeting even when the meeting has drawn to a close. All of these factors combined help to promote a professional, effective environment for the workforce and aids in creating connections with each other.
Camara, D. R., & Hicks, R. E. (2019). USING VIRTUAL REALITY TO REDUCE STATE ANXIETY AND STRESS IN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS: AN EXPERIMENT. Journal of Psychology, 2, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.5176/2345-7929_4.2.100
Harris, S. R., Kemmerling, R. L., & North, M. M. (2002). Brief Virtual Reality Therapy for Public Speaking Anxiety. In CYBERPSYCHOLOGY & BEHAVIOR (Vol. 5, Issue 6). www.liebertpub.com
Kazi, & Hastwell. (2020). Remote Work Productivity Study Finds Surprising Reality: 2-Year Analysis | Great Place to Work®. Great Place to Work. https://www.greatplacetowork.com/resources/blog/remote-work-productivity-study-finds-surprising-reality-2-year-study
Robillard, G., Bouchard, S., Dumoulin, S., Guitard, T., & Klinger, É. (2010). Using virtual humans to alleviate social anxiety: Preliminary report from a comparative outcome study. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 154, 57–60. https://doi.org/10.3233/978-1-60750-561-7-57
Seabrook, E., Kelly, R., Foley, F., Theiler, S., Thomas, N., Wadley, G., & Nedeljkovic, M. (2020). Understanding how virtual reality can support mindfulness practice: Mixed methods study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(3). https://doi.org/10.2196/16106
University of Maryland. (2018). People recall information better through virtual reality — ScienceDaily. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180613162613.htm