Can Virtual Reality Support Better Innovation in Teams?
Virtual reality has been seen to improve communication and collaboration between colleagues due to the high immersion and the layer of invisibility that it provides. This means that those who would uncomfortable sharing their ideas in a face-to-face environment are more comfortable in this virtual environment.
Consequently, potential innovative ideas that would have been lost in a face-to-face environment are more likely to be expressed within a virtual environment.
Why could Virtual Reality more Beneficial than Face-To-Face?
Virtual reality is becoming increasingly popular within team settings which has allowed for hybrid teams to collaborate and thrive in this constantly developing era of technology. The high immersion of virtual reality means that colleagues develop the feeling of sharing the same environment as each other, as if they were there face-to-face, but without the potential uncomfortable feelings that may be apparent in face-to-face environments.
These feelings may include anxiety, embarrassment, and self-consciousness when participating in team activities. However, virtual reality helps to decrease these feelings of social embarrassment due to the layers of anonymity and invisibility (Barak & Gluck-Ofri, 2007; Hooi & Cho, 2013), which can boost productivity, collaboration, and innovation as colleagues are more likely to share their ideas.
What tools in Virtual Reality can Support Innovation?
There are specific platforms within virtual reality which can help to foster innovation and collaboration. They use tools such as a pen, which allows for individuals to draw and write on virtual post it notes as well as in the air. The writing, as well as the virtual post it notes, can then be moved around the room using a pointer tool, which means that colleagues do not have to go to the “front of the room” in order to post their ideas upon a white board. This can be a very daunting task for individuals who have high levels of anxiety and would feel very uncomfortable walking to the front of a physical room in front of a number of colleagues. Due to this, virtual reality makes it easier to share concepts and information as everyone can move the items with ease, without the need to physically stand in front of a room full of people.
Additionally, holographic style tools have been implemented within virtual reality platforms, which allows individuals to “physically” interact with the model. For example, there may be a model of a car engine which can be enlarged, inspected, and different components can be removed, redesigned, and altered. This allows for individuals to embrace their creativity as they can change the component with ease, which would not be possible when faced with a physical engine.
How can Virtual Reality Improve Team Collaboration?
Virtual reality fosters high levels of immersion and presence, which can increase levels of social interactions between co-workers due to their being less distractions within the physical environment. Additionally, due to the custom environments which are accessible within virtual reality, the participation-based memory effect occurs as the conversations within virtual reality become more memorable due to the differing environments (University of Maryland, 2018). Furthermore, the team building exercises virtual reality accommodates for have been seen to be more effective than traditional methods due to virtual reality decreasing levels of anxiety within individuals (Camara & Hicks, 2019; Harris et al., 2002; Robillard et al., 2010). This means that more collaborative teams can be formed as the almost realistic environment reduces levels of attention loss and stress, which would otherwise hinder collaboration.
The Benefits of Virtual Reality for Both Introverts and Extroverts
One of the main concerns faced with traditional face-to-face collaboration is that introverts may become too overloaded with the social interactions, which can elevate levels of anxiety and cause the individual to withdraw from actively taking part in the activity. However, the levels of invisibility due to the “mask” of the avatar means that those with introversion tendencies feel more comfortable in expressing their ideas and opinions, which improves team collaboration and innovation (Hammick & Lee, 2014). Similarly, those classed as more extroverted are still able to have the increased social interactions that they prefer as the high levels of presence allows for a subjective experience, rather than observational one.
How does VRE Implement this?
Here at VRE we use platforms which promote team collaboration and team building, which in turn increases the communication between colleagues and thus innovation. We have found that individuals feel more at ease to speak and communicate their ideas and views across in virtual reality compared to face-to-face environments, but still has the illusion that they have “spent a day” with their colleagues. Due to this, it is important to utilize these findings effectively in order to improve team collaboration and innovation.
VRE offers a range of services supporting organisations with broad needs
- VR Team Building – reconnect your remote teams with incredibly engaging virtual face to face activities
- VR Leadership Assessment and Development – using the latest VR assessment technology we can tell you if your team is a real team and how they can change their behaviour to be a high performing team
- VR Hire – we have hire hubs all over the world to help deliver our VR services, so you can use our VR hire to support your own VR training projects and pilots
- VR Management and Leadership training – we offer a wide range of training across these topics, from half day courses down to 90 min high impact sessions, the beauty of VR is you can now offer much more flexible programme design because there is no travel involved
- VR Soft Skills training – we offer a wide range of soft skills training for all levels in an organisation, covering the key skills and behaviours essential for productive working in a modern organisation
Barak, A., & Gluck-Ofri, O. (2007). Degree and reciprocity of self-disclosure in online forums. Cyberpsychology and Behavior, 10(3), 407–417. https://doi.org/10.1089/CPB.2006.9938
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
Hammick, J. K., & Lee, M. J. (2014). Do shy people feel less communication apprehension online? The effects of virtual reality on the relationship between personality characteristics and communication outcomes. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 302–310. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.CHB.2013.01.046
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
Hooi, R., & Cho, H. (2013). The virtual “me” is the actual me: Self-disclosure in virtual environment. Proceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 883–892. https://doi.org/10.1109/HICSS.2013.546
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
University of Maryland. (2018). People recall information better through virtual reality — ScienceDaily. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180613162613.htm