How Virtual Reality can Improve Team Building and Create High Performance Teams
Virtual reality has been shown to effectively improve self-efficacy and further work-related skills, which can also decrease the symptoms of work-related anxiety. Additionally, it is of importance for managers to acquire knowledge around team performance-team dynamics in order to identify the nature of the groups they are working with. Here at VRE, we aim to maximise team building capabilities in order to improve the effectiveness of team building, which in turn leads to high performance teams and superior business results.
The Importance of Team Building for High Performance Teams
A stronger unit of employees can be built when team building exercises are effectively implemented, which leads to improves productivity, increases employee motivation, collaboration, trust, and respect. Additionally, this allows for a dynamic team to be built where both employees and managers are able to grow due to the adaptation of mutual values and understanding. According to a multitude of research, effective teamwork is also associated with reduced work errors, improved worker well-being, fewer turnover intentions, greater gob satisfaction, and cost-effective services (Abualrub et al., 2012; Carter & West, 1999; Manser, 2009; Ross et al., 2009).
In terms of the development of high-performance teams, this requires several characteristics needed for three main themes, which are Team Culture, Team Structures, and Team Processes. Team Culture refers to the beliefs, ideals, norms, and expectations present within the team and includes trust, transparency, diversity, and conflict management. Additionally, Team Structures can be defined as the configuration of team relationships that concern the allocation of tasks, team member roles, responsibilities, and authority. This second theme includes creating a shared meaning, accountability, clarity, participation, and leadership. Finally, the third theme, Team Processes, is the way in which team members work with each other in order to be most effect to produce meaningful outcomes. This includes cognitive flexibility, reflection, communication, and readiness for change.
Why Virtual Reality Team Building over Traditional Team Building?
It has been illustrated that traditional team building exercises have a negative, mundane stereotype associated with them which can cause inconsistent engagement between co-workers. This is because the more introverted co-workers may take a step back from being fully engaged, as well as others not taking the task seriously. These experiences would yield to lingering negative feelings among team members, which can cause frustration for coaches and managers who may have used significant organizational resources for the team building process. A direct consequence of this is the development of pseudo teams, where a group of employees feel merged rather than having a team relationship. This been seen to be associated with increased levels of work errors, bullying, stress, production stagnation, and resistance to change (West & Lyubovnikova, 2012).
How has Virtual Reality been able to Implement Team Building Exercises?
Remote work has dramatically increased from 5.7% pre COVID-19 pandemic (The Home Office Life, 2022) to 36% in January 2022 (Probert, 2022), which means that new, innovative methods towards team building needed to be implemented. This is because traditional, face to face team building exercises have become more difficult to achieve, as well as becoming more expensive to implement due to the cost-of-living crisis. This highlights the absolute importance of the implementation of new pioneering and cost-effective team building methods.
Virtual reality team building methods allow for a safe, virtual environment in which employees can experiment and collaborate with each other. Additionally, the VR “video game” style of immersion disrupts the mundane stereotypes often associated with traditional team building exercises, therefore allowing for a more effective and enjoyable team build session. Due to this, a natural flow of conversation can be developed between the workforce, which can be used to help identify whom within that workforce has leadership tendencies. In turn, this will allow for employees to establish the important mutual respect and understanding with one another.
What are some of the Team Building Exercises in Virtual Reality?
Due to the flexibility virtual reality offers, a wide range of activities can be used, which may bay impossible or too expensive to implement outside of the virtual world. One example of this is the use of an escape room, which is easily accessible in virtual reality, encouraging employees to work together as a team to problem solve and escape. This is an effective team building method as successful communication, teamwork, and respect are required in order to complete the escape room tasks. Additionally, due to the safe space virtual reality offers, it can decrease levels of anxiety within individuals (Camara & Hicks, 2019; Harris et al., 2002; Robillard et al., 2010) as it encourages the quieter members to “step out of their shell” due to the disinhibition effect and immersion. Overall, this promotes a stronger, more productive workforce and an effective, high-performance team.
How does Virtual Reality Experiences Incorporate Team Building Tasks?
Virtual team building activities are extremely important due to the rapid changes in workplace environments due to the high number of employees working from home. In a direct response to this, Virtual Reality Experiences provide team building exercises through the use of specialised virtual platforms and activities, which each promote teamwork skills, leadership skills, communication skills, and more. These skills combined help to promote an effective, satisfied workforce, which will increase, productivity, efficiency, and overall reputation of the company. In turn, this generates high performance teams.
Abualrub, R. F., Gharaibeh, H. F., & Bashayreh, A. E. I. (2012). The relationships between safety climate, teamwork, and intent to stay at work among Jordanian hospital nurses. Nursing Forum, 47(1), 65–75. https://doi.org/10.1111/J.1744-6198.2011.00253.X
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
Carter, A. J., & West, M. A. (1999). Sharing the burden – teamwork in health care settings – Research Portal | Lancaster University (J. Firth-Cozens & R. Payne, Eds.). Wiley. https://www.research.lancs.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/sharing-the-burden–teamwork-in-health-care-settings(6e1bcd13-d534-4d55-888f-73b2a74c7ae6)/export.html
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
Manser. (2009). Teamwork and patient safety in dynamic domains of healthcare: a review of the literature. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, 53(2), 143–151. https://doi.org/10.1111/J.1399-6576.2008.01717.X
Probert, J. (2022). Homeworking and spending during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Great Britain – Office for National Statistics. https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/homeworkingandspendingduringthecoronaviruscovid19pandemicgreatbritain/april2020tojanuary2022
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
Ross, F., Rink, E., & Furne, A. (2009). Integration or pragmatic coalition? An evaluation of nursing teams in primary care. Http://Dx.Doi.Org/10.1080/Jic.14.3.259.267, 14(3), 259–267. https://doi.org/10.1080/JIC.14.3.259.267
The Home Office Life. (2022). 📊 Working from home statistics UK [Updated for 2022] — The Home Office Life. https://thehomeofficelife.com/blog/work-from-home-statistics
West, M. A., & Lyubovnikova, J. (2012). Real Teams or Pseudo Teams? The Changing Landscape Needs a Better Map. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 5(1), 25–28. https://doi.org/10.1111/J.1754-9434.2011.01397.X