Using Augmented and Virtual Reality in Workplace Transformations
01 Mar 2019
Co-authored by Karthik Addagarla, Operations & Logistics Manager, EON Reality
This is the third article in our change management series, Managing Workplace Change.
In any type of workplace transformation, the employee journey involves time to unlearn, change and relearn. Some employees are early adopters and opinion leaders, while others need more time to adapt to the change. Workplace transformations come with a host of challenges, such as moving from fixed seating to Activity Based Working, or introducing new types of work settings, technologies, processes. This is why employee buy-in is crucial for any workplace change program to be truly effective.
A lack of employee engagement can result in delays in adoption and usage, which in turn can lead to unhappy staff, loss of productivity, and even an unclear ROI. So how can workplace change managers make the change journey more engaging and relevant for employees? One solution is to explore the realm of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology.
AR and VR have now moved from futuristic to everyday technologies, enabling users to fully immerse themselves in interactive experiences. These tools offer workplace change managers the opportunity to actively involve employees at every stage of the change journey. By transforming the concept of workplace change into a vivid reality, AR and VR are more likely to help create enthusiastic change champions who will share their experience with colleagues. In fact, EON Reality, a leading AR/VR technology company, suggests that implementing change management through their Augmented Virtual Reality (AVR) platform can help end users learn faster, remember longer and decide better.
Workplace change managers are increasingly using AR and VR in a variety of interesting ways. For instance, they are incorporating Augmented Reality glasses into space tours, inductions and trainings to improve employee adoption and usage of Activity Based Working (ABW). The idea is to provide interactive content that will direct change champions or users to detailed ABW guidelines at various work settings in the pilot space.
Facility managers are also starting to use AR and VR tools to enhance fire safety, space maintenance and new hire trainings. According to EON Reality’s research reports, trainings that use the AVR platform are 2.7 times faster and 63% less expensive compared to traditional training methods.
Augmented and virtual reality technologies can also be hugely beneficial to the workplace design process. Using spatial mapping in AR and VR will enable design co-creation, where users can visualize dimensions, space and depth, and go on a virtual tour of their future workplace. Technology integration during the early stages of workplace strategy shortens the interior design process, allowing designers to make instant changes to the layout to speed up the design review cycle.
More and more companies are choosing to invest in AR and VR. For instance, CBRE's Occupier Consulting Services line is exploring the possibility of integrating the AVR platform into their Workplace Strategy, Design and Change Management programs. This trend is likely to skyrocket in the next few years. BI Intelligence predicts a global spending of 200 billion USD by 2021, which is about 10 times the current spending on AR/VR products and services. According to Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research, the market size of AR/VR software will reach 34 billion USD in 2025.
For workplace change managers who remain skeptical of the real value-add of these technologies, here are some key challenges that AR and VR can help with:
- How can you motivate end users to embark on the change journey to a workplace transformation?
- How can you keep them engaged throughout the entire process?
- How can behavioral change be sustained in the new workplace?
As discussed above, the success of any workplace transformation project depends on the end users’ willingness to embrace change. By making employees an active part of the change journey, and enabling them to truly visualize their future workplace, AR and VR can help them gain a sense of ownership in the project. These technologies have the potential to transform the employee mindset from that of a spectator to a stakeholder, fostering higher levels of engagement throughout the entire change journey.
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