Smart offices. We’re not there yet, but they are coming. And for millennials, this cannot be soon enough.
Consider the results of a 2016 study by Penn Schoen Berland, that interviewed 3,800 global employees about technological change in the workplace. Both millennials and older employees were interviewed, and the results for millennials were as follows:
- Millennials globally are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with old school technology in the workplace – technology that is far behind what they have in their homes.
- Millennials are more likely to quit a job in a workplace with sub-standard technology
- 82% of millennials state that high tech offices will influence their decision about taking a new job
- 44% of millennials believe their workplaces aren’t smart enough
- 58% of global millennial workers prefer high tech in-office perks, such as VR and AR, as opposed to traditional free snacks and ping pong tables.
But the biggest overall reason that millennials want AR/VR products in their professional lives is that they believe it will increase their productivity.
And here’s how.
Better training opportunities
The above study reported that 66% of millennials believe that VR for training purposes will allow them to train from anywhere and on their own time schedules. And AR/VR training experiences, because of their realistic nature, provide a realistic experience for those involved in the training.
Improved collaboration and virtual sharing
The current “buzzword” of collaboration refers to the concept that people working in collaborative teams can accomplish more in a shorter period of time. And in the contemporary corporate world, remote workers are becoming more and more common.
Technology such as video conferencing has certainly provided for great collaboration, but consider what VR can do – placing participants in virtual spaces together where the can move around together. According to the study results, 73% of millennials say that virtual sharing tools are extremely important to them.
Developing and testing new ideas
Consider automobile design engineers as just one example. Designs can be tested in virtual reality environments, so that the actual user experience can be evaluated. This is also true for the real estate industry.
A natural extension of this is the showcasing of products and services to clients and consumers. The ability of customers to “try out” a new product, especially a high-priced one, will provide manufacturers with the feedback they need to proceed with production or modify based upon user feedback.
Many offices still “live” in a paper world – files, post-it notes, papers, etc. And, even when digital “paper” is used, it is in the form of email and document attachments that require devices to open them and print them out. Suppose, instead, that information and data could all be accessed and just swiped through with finger flicks?
After all, 83% of millennials say that workplace setting, furniture and tech has an impact on their decision to take a new job and up to 42% say that they will quit a job with substandard tech.
Improved focus and privacy
Donning a VR headset can allow employees to place themselves in a virtual environment that “works” for them. Some may prefer a beach with the sounds and sights of the ocean; others may prefer a quiet coffee shop or library. VR allows employees to set up their ideal work environment that allows them to focus more on the tasks at hand.
At times, career professionals feel more productive when they have complete privacy as they work through a challenge. That privacy can be established in a virtual environment.
We all remember our recess times at school. It allowed us to shed the challenges and anxieties of the classroom and just “blow off some steam” in total non-academic activity. After that type of break, we were better able to focus on the upcoming instruction.
Providing VR and AR breaks for employees is no different. After working on a particularly challenging work task, or even getting stalled in the process, a break is warranted. Traditionally, this might have meant a trip to the staff lounge, a brisk walk outside, or a trip to the snack machine.
If AR and VR experiences are available to workers who need breaks, they can individually choose their “recess” environment – it can be different for everyone. But when an employee has a break that has been truly valuable for him, his productivity upon returning to the work environment is increased.
AR and VR are still in their infancy. Both technologies have made a big splash in the gaming industry. More recently, they have moved into e-commerce. Consumers can sit in and drive new cars; they can try on glasses frames in the privacy of their own homes before they proceed to an optometrist for exam and new glasses. Augmented reality now allows consumer to scan a wine bottle label and instantly view a video of how that wine was produced, from grape field to final bottling.
While AR/VR has been slow to move into the workplace, they are the future of businesses that intend to attract millennial talent. Millennials “get it.” They see the value of VR at work and understand how it can increase their productivity. In the near future, they will be demanding it.