Remote Companies Turn to VR for Morale Boost
Jos van der Westhuizen, CEO of Remio

It’s no secret that the traditional workplace is evolving. A June 2021 study from Future Forum (of which Boston Consulting Group is a founding member) assessed more than 10,000 knowledge workers in six countries and found that 93% want a flexible schedule and 76% want flexibility in where they work. With remote working becoming more popular, and more companies of all sizes from startup to enterprise are not requiring employees to return to office, many are turning to virtual reality (VR) as a way to drive employee retention and skill-building. VR allows employees from all over the world to come together in a virtual environment, where they can engage and learn from one another.

Here, we’ll share how VR is being used by companies going fully remote, and the benefits it has for employee engagement and skill-building.

An Antidote to Quiet Quitting and Retention Challenges Among Remote Teams

Low company engagement known as “quiet quitting” has grown. Remote employees, looking for separation between work and home life as becoming detached, less productive, and less motivated. Spending hours in video conferences has created Zoom fatigue. As a result, new roles in companies dedicated to the employee experience, particularly with remote and hybrid teams are emerging.

Employers are also turning to events in VR. With Remio’s platform, companies can create private, customized virtual environments where employees can interact in an immersive environment that communicates body language, spatial voice and collaboration in more physical ways that are more deeply engaging and satisfying. Companies are finding that using VR for team events lets them extend their corporate culture, strengthen bonds between employees, improve morale, and increase retention.

Companies benefit from replacing those private water cooler “aha” moments with a virtual space. VR also has the benefit of enabling offsites without incurring costs associated with travel, lodging or time off to attend events. And with current travel staffing shortages and delays, events are predictable.

Teams are finding ways to onboard new employees, role play for soft skills development, have team exercise sessions and just have fun together. There are many benefits of using VR for employee engagement and training. First, VR provides a more immersive and engaging experience than traditional methods such as video conferencing. Second, VR allows companies to create custom environments that are specific to their needs. Third, it eliminates the need for employees to take time off from work to attend training or events. Finally, it helps reduce costs associated with travel and lodging.

Despite the benefits of using VR for employee engagement, there are some challenges that need to be addressed. It can be difficult to ensure that all employees have access to the necessary equipment. VR headsets can be rented or purchased, and companies are slowly tackling the issue of device management. Another challenge is that the quality of VR content can vary depending on the hardware and software used. Finally, this is early days and companies are just learning how to incorporate this new general purpose immersive computing device.

Sometimes, It’s All Fun and Games

A Gallup study found that 36% of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace and on a global level, only 20% of employees are engaged at work. The study also found that career wellbeing is the foundation for improving other elements of wellbeing, including social, financial, physical and community, so increasing employee engagement would have a profoundly positive impact on workers overall wellbeing. In a remote environment, companies are exploring ways to virtually extend the company culture environment to keep employees engaged, connected and motivated. For example, Trello partnered with Remio and gathered their 300-person team in VR for a fun offsite. They walked through photo galleries of company memories as a farewell to the founding team. Teammates could wander around in their customized virtual HQ and join any of the multiple fun social activities happening such as the Disco room, barVR, or the minigolf, paintball, and archer defense tournaments. Another one of the many examples would be the X team at Oracle bringing their remote teammates together for puzzle races and escape rooms in Remio’s VR platform where they can laugh and interact together as if they are in the same room.

What the Future Holds for VR and Remote Work

Despite the challenges, VR is a promising tool for employee engagement whether it’s a one-time event or a recurring meeting. Companies that are not requiring employees to return to offices are instead turning to virtual reality to drive employee engagement, skill-building and other events. VR allows employees from all over the world to come together in a virtual environment, where they can collaborate and learn from one another, and we see that when VR is being used by companies with both hybrid and fully remote environments, the benefits clearly outweigh the challenges, and we anticipate company adoption of VR programs to continue growing as employees experience the wellness benefits further.