We know that virtual reality and augmented reality will help all of us in improving a lot of sectors of our lives. A new research by Vive Immersive Labs shows how it can be fundamental to make our office lives better. Let’s see how.
Vive Immersive Labs has recently decided to verify if Virtual Reality could be used to make the life of white collars better. This meant tried to make these people have better working efficiency and a better quality of life, with less perceived stress. To perform this experiment, they supplied HTC Vive headsets (of course Vive Immersive Labs doesn’t work with Oculus Go ) to 207 office workers in three Chinese cities: Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai (three Chinese cities that are very distant the one from the others). These people were invited to live part of the office life from the virtual reality headset, to perform working tasks inside a virtual office in the headset.
After one month of usage of the Vive headset in their offices, 95.2% of these people reported better work performances and also lower stress levels
(the remaining 4.8% were the ones wanting a Go).
Only 4.8% of people found that VR had no effect in making their office lives better (Image by Vive Immersive Labs)
PSS means Perceived Stress Level (Image by Vive Immersive Labs)
But how have these results been achieved? And why VR can make office life better? Well, the reasons are many.
Personal office environment
This is one of the most important reasons that has led to the above results.
In VR, every employee can create its own personal virtual office and work from inside there. So, for instance, even if he/she is working in a big corporate with lots of colleagues making noise around him/her, he/she could have a virtual environment where he/she is alone and in peace. He (let me drop the “he/she” from now on) could have a personal quiet VR space when he has all the privacy he wants, without other people seeing what he is seeing.
This for sure can help the worker in feeling better inside his virtual office, with less stress given from all the hundreds people around him, without feeling always observed and without feeling his personal space as being only a cubicle.
Furthermore, this personal space, being completely personal and private, could be customized to fit the tastes of the worker, making him feel more “at home” while being at work.
Relaxing working environment
I’ve said that the working environment could be customized however the worker wants. But since we are in VR, this would mean that every kind of customizations are possible, not only the ones that are possible in real life. Do you want a whale swimming in your office? Well, with VR you can!
Working in this underwater environment makes people feel more relaxed (Image by Vive Immersive Labs)
This may seem a crazy idea, but actually different kind of environments can lead to different states of our mind. Evan, the head of Research Lab, has clearly indicated that this was another key factor of the stunning numbers presented in the study:
Spacious and bright virtual office could strengthen employees’ mind in quick-thinking. The virtual office of the blue undersea scene has a soothing effect, and the independent virtual office can better develop employees’ job privacy. All these factors can make employees’ work in a better status and increase work output
Evan, head of Research Lab
This means that we can create custom virtual office environments that feel more relaxing for the workers, that so can have a better life in the office. Every one of us has a different idea of what is a relaxing environment (some people prefer the sea, others the night, others the wild nature, etc…), and with VR we can offer a customized environment for each user (this is what relaxing apps like Guided Meditation already do).
It may seem strange for us the idea of working on a virtual desk that sits in a jungle or that stays underwater, but the above results prove that it may even be weird, but it does work damn well.
The office space can really become personal in VR (Image by Vive Immersive Labs)
If the virtual reality headset can be taken at home, the workers can even work from home and so spare the stress of the daily commute, with the classical screams in the traffic and the gentle squeezing of other people in the metro.
This means sparing money, time and also stress.
Work from everywhere
Expanding the above concept, people may work from everywhere. I am in Italy, but I could work easily for a company in Beijing through a VR headset.
This means that talented people should not necessarily move to big cities of the world where there are more technological and financial development (e.g. Silicon Valley or Shenzhen), but could stay at home, leading to a more uniform distribution of talents all over the world.
Less stress from VR meetings
Mister President meeting various people in VR inside the collaborative platform XCOL offered by VR Waibao (Image by Vive Immersive Labs)
Meetings could be done in an efficient way by people from all over the world gathering in VR. We all know that a lot of companies (e.g. VR Waibao) are already working on virtual reality collaborative platforms and the reason of such a big interest is because VR meetings are fundamental to spare all the hassles of continuous business travels.
VR meetings have also another added benefit we usually don’t think about: it may remove the stress of meeting someone in person. When meeting some important person face to face, we could feel embarassedof looking directly him/her in the eyes, of not being dressed in the proper way, of doing even the slightest wrong facial expression. Many psychologists also say that anxiety may arise from random expressions coming from the person in front of us (e.g. a puzzled face by our boss may make us feel in trouble). With VR, these issues are removed and this means that shy people could feel more comfortable of having meetings.
New opportunities to fund companies
This is something that is surely more important for the bosses than the employees. Since everyone can work at home and have the best office ever that suits their need… is there really the need of a physical office anymore?
Will this become a memory of the past?
This is something similar to what has happened to stores. For centuries, people wanting to sell goods had to buy a physical space and sell products from there. Since when e-commerce has entered our lives, this rule has been canceled: a lot of guys and girls sell stuff on eBay without having a physical store, without the need to rent an expensive physical space. This has let a lot of people enter the commerce field easily.
And with VR, we could have the same situation: maybe in the future companies wouldn’t need physical offices anymore and people will all work remotely inside beautiful virtual offices. This would make the creation of a company easier, enabling lots of talented people in becoming entrepreneurs.
You may say that it is already possible now thanks to Skype, but trust me, this is not the same. Being present in the same space for coworkers is fundamental and just a Skype call once in a while hardly make people feel united. I’ve lived that on my skin.
With VR, it would be possible for people to see each other side-by-side for all the office hours, exactly as they were in the same physical office, but without being in the same physical office. That is, with VR you can have both the advantages of being in the same physical space and of working from remote.
Me trying the XCOL application with an HTC Vive Pro, while Steven from VR Waibao is using a tablet and another employee a smartphone
Of course, there are a lot of problems related to VR offices that have to be solved. For instance, current VR collaborative solutions can’t replicate the same level of interactions that are in real life yet and can’t even foster the same kind of relationships. Furthermore, VR headsets are still not comfortable enough to be worn each day for 8 hours straight.
We are just at the beginning, and there is a long road in front of us before we will be able to substitute real offices with virtual offices. But the results obtained by Vive Immersive Labs show that we are in the right path to make office life better.
Let’s work all together for it to happen.