2020 was already poised to be a significant year for cloud-based technologies, with the global workforces’ appetite for remote working growing stronger by the day. No one could have predicted the change that has since ensued. The current pandemic has rapidly accelerated the already-changing attitudes of employers and employees, forcing them to adapt to widespread home-working almost overnight. For challenging sectors such as oil and gas and healthcare, big questions are on the minds of leaders is; how can businesses look to continue effective and efficient training, avoiding little disruption, in an unforeseeable working world?
Virtual reality training may well be having its golden moment in helping out here. Companies such as Immerse have a virtual reality system which integrates directly with SAP Successfactors Learning. It enables companies to create, scale and measure virtual reality (VR) training. VR as a training tool brings a whole host of benefits, including higher levels of employee engagement and better learning outcomes and information retention compared to traditional training methods. It also generates large amounts of high-quality data (30 data points per second per user) that can be used to help maximise employee performance, improve processes and provide business leaders with a suite of valuable analytics to reveal ROI.
But for some sectors, I believe that the benefits can be even greater. In challenging, high-risk sectors, VR training has a unique solution to a knotty problem: how to provide robust, effective training when practicing in real life is impractical, but classroom-based training is unlikely to equip workers with the skills they need.
In the oil and gas industry, for example, hazard and disaster training can rarely be done ‘in situ’, and disaster scenarios are much too dangerous to replicate, yet employers need to be confident that their workers would know how to deal with a situation if it arose. And in the healthcare sector, medics need to be fluent in the latest technology and techniques, but access to equipment is often limited, and practicing on real-life patients is unethical.
In these challenging sectors, VR can provide an ideal solution.
What we have seen is that one of the problems with traditional training methods for unexpected, high-pressure scenarios is that the actual conditions that an employee would face are not replicated. With VR, however, this is solved. The highly detailed and realistic VR environment tricks the brain into thinking that the situation is real, provoking genuine emotions like fear and vertigo. Trainees can practise working in a stressful situation and build important muscle memory while they’re actually in a safe, controlled space without physical risk.
Immerse developed a VR environment for a well known oil and gas company to train employees on emergency response procedures. By creating a virtual reality simulation of a disaster, the employees had the chance to practice their response without exposing them to any danger.
Training on new technology
When it comes to training medics, consistency is key. But the workforce is often dispersed, and access to state-of-the-art equipment is limited. Plus, practicing on real-life patients poses ethical problems. VR can ensure that healthcare employees are trained on new techniques and technologies in an efficient, cost-effective way.
Immerse worked with a well known healthcare company on a VR program that trains radiographers to perform CTCA scans — a special type of x-ray that can identify patients at risk of developing heart problems. Until recently, radiographers have only been able to improve their skills using an actual CT scanner. But access to these scanners is limited due to their relative scarcity and patient demand. The VR environment opened up more opportunities for the companies trainees, both by increasing the number of practical training hours and also by training radiographers in more procedures.
The key to effective training in the face of adversity
Tailored virtual training environments like the examples above can be delivered as modularised training events which may sit on an employee learning plan or program within SAP SuccessFactors learning. Upon completion, employees can be certified to perform a specific task through the power of VR. Training history and certification is tracked and stored within the SAP Successfactors Learning, providing a track record of employee data that can benefit both employee and employer alike. For challenging sectors, this level of detail can be key when making business decisions in the wake of global disruption.
As we increasingly move towards an unfamiliar working world, being able to access highly-effective training within a virtual, hands-on environment and without having to be physically present provides huge added benefits to organisations looking to upskill their employees. Healthcare, as with other challenging sectors, cannot afford to pause when demand is at its highest, putting effective training like virtual reality in a unique position to help solve the workplaces most pressing problems.