Three Reasons Why Virtual Reality Video May Thrive in the ‘New Normal’

The ascendency of video conferencing in the COVID-era has enabled many businesses to transition, more or less seamlessly, to a fully remote workforce that still manages to retain an element of in-person interaction (punctuated by the occasional intrusion of other household members).

While Zoom calls and Teams meetings have helped businesses sustain some semblance of face time with remote peers and customers, many businesses are taking a closer look at virtual reality (VR) to give them an even deeper connection to their disbursed staff. If virtual reality gaming hasn’t gained as much traction as its proponents may have hoped, VR in a business setting may have been given a shot in the arm thanks to COVID-19.

In fact, there are three reasons why workplace VR may become an enduring feature of a post COVID-19 ‘new normal.

1) Fewer distractions and deeper connections

Unlike a video conference, a virtual reality experience is fully immersive. While completely immersing oneself in a virtual environment can provoke nausea, it can also create a more intimate experience—once you get over the surreality of it. In a time when opportunities for in-person collaboration, training or customer service are curtailed, virtual connectedness could be the next best thing. Perhaps that’s one reason why business-centric VR platforms have seen usage, and investment,  soar during the pandemic.

2) People seem to like it

In one large study of remote education programs, respondents took a combination of remote, in-person and virtual lessons—and overwhelmingly preferred virtual. Firsthand accounts of users who have tried VR in business settings also seem positive. One reason could be that, unlike simple conference calls or group video chats, many of the unspoken conversational and interpersonal cues can be picked up on more easily in a virtual setting.

3) A larger virtual workforce is probably here to stay

The shift to a more remote workforce was prompted by an urgent need to enforce social distancing and, in some regions, state-mandated lockdowns. While the pandemic continues to rage, those conditions will continue to keep workers dialed in remotely. But even when a treatment, vaccine or effective suppression of the virus takes hold, many business leaders see some form of remote work enduring. In such an environment, VR business solutions will naturally have a larger addressable market to sell into.

While it will likely take years for VR to penetrate the workforce at scale, the stars seem aligned for strong growth in the future.