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May 01, 2020

How VR & Immersive Technology Could Radically Change the Way We Do Remote Meetings

Although the remote team meeting has been brought to the forefront in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 global pandemic, finding long-term tech solutions to keeping remote teams connected is becoming more critical for businesses, especially for those with teams based across the world. But the questions remain: how can virtual reality revolutionise the way we meet colleagues and is there a good business case for adoption?

Why should businesses adopt virtual reality for remote team meetings?

VR and immersive technology can offer businesses an effective tool to facilitate communication by keeping remote teams connected. For example, our VR collaboration tool VISIONxR™ is designed specifically as a team collaboration platform, extending the workplace into an immersive space for team members to meet, share ideas, work and undertake training together. With remote teams being able to access the platform in VR, as well as PCs or mobile devices, it can be used to significantly improve team communications and inclusivity regardless of where team members are in the world.

Coupled with the lower price points of sophisticated hardware such as the HTC VIVE and Oculus Quest, the business case for introducing virtual reality into core functions of businesses is an increasingly attractive prospect – especially when balanced against savings made on time and money spent on staff travel.

The operational impact of virtual reality meetings

On a practical level, VR meetings can also help to streamline operations. By taking out the requirement to be in the same room, businesses are able to significantly reduce both travel expenses, as well downtime whilst staff are on the move. Remote team collaboration means that teams can meet in a more agile way, with the potential to meet on a more regular and ad hoc basis to collectively discuss issues and rapidly problem solve.

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VR meetings also have the potential to be more impactful than traditional or videoconference meetings. Let’s face it, we’ve probably all been guilty of losing concentration in long meetings or replying to the occasional email during online catch-ups. But in VR, the potential for distractions is seriously limited; wearing a headset and headphones means you’re fully immersed in the meeting space in a way that’s impossible to replicate in the real or online space.

Bringing remote teams back into the same 3D space

Video Conferencing platforms give businesses the tools to keep remote teams connected, however they offer a significantly different experience to a face-to-face meeting. In them, we are anchored in isolated physical spaces and transported into a fixed 2D screen. In effect, it’s like a TV interview where we’re either a presenter, or an active viewer.

The unique appeal of virtual reality based meetings is that they can bring us back into a shared 3D space, without the limitations of having to be in the same physical place. By doing this, virtual reality platforms have the potential to transform remote meetings, as we are able to interact in a more natural way. We can move and look around at whatever we choose to, as well as gesticulate and pick up on nuanced, non-verbal signals from other attendees in a similar way that we can in traditional, face-to-face meetings.

Creating the right environment: keeping remote teams engaged and healthy

You want a meeting on the moon? Why not – the sky’s no longer the limit! One of the really exciting things about virtual reality is the ability to create an environment that is in tune with your meeting’s agenda. The only potential limitation is your imagination, rather than the restraints of the physical world or a 2D screen. By having the flexibility to choose, you can set the tone of your meeting from the moment you enter the virtual space – whether that’s replicating a corporate boardroom for a client meeting, or meeting on a beach for a team building exercise.

Moreover, virtual reality meeting spaces could have potential health benefits too as it provides a dynamic physical environment and introduces a new etiquette to meetings. Getting up from our seats and moving around regularly is good for our health – and in a VR meeting you’re able to do just that, without the fear of breaking the rules of meeting engagement. You are freed from hunching over a screen or sat in an uncomfortable chair for hours and can combine being active with actively participating in your meeting. Furthermore, as ergonomic design is a key consideration of VR hardware development, the potential strain of typing and mouse clicking is also taken away.

Play it back: facilitating better team communications

Ever found that when you miss a meeting, you’re left feeling out of the loop? As VR meetings can be spatially recorded, meetings can be replayed in VR as if you were there, meaning you’re no longer reliant on sketchy notes or puzzling action points. As a communications tool to aid effective collaborative remote team working, this is a game changer as it gives team members the chance to stay better informed about activity and developments that may impact on their work.  

Time for a virtual change?

Adopting new systems and technologies into businesses can be challenging. As businesses across the globe struggle with the immediate impact of Covid-19, coupled with long term issues of globalisation, attracting and retaining the best talent and streamlining operational costs, there’s never been a better time to consider a virtual future.