If ever there was a moment that millions of people needed a virtual world to escape into, it’s now.
When you think of Virtual Reality (VR), many people think of expensive, techy kit for gamers. The latest toy to fulfil a teenager’s urge for shoot ‘em up games. Yet, as the cost of headsets has come down, the applications for this cutting-edge technology have multiplied rapidly – from gaming to training and racing cars to remedial programmes for anxiety.
As we all encourage our teams to bring to their best selves to work, we know that this is against a backdrop of uncertainty and loss – loss of freedom, stimulation, income and for many, loss of loved ones. Technology has come to the rescue to answer many work and social challenges in the past year – maintaining collaboration, communication, working from home and even meals to our door!
With its unique ability to recreate real life situations, how can VR help us all to motivate, inspire and empower? How can we best use VR to support happy and healthier teams?
The pandemic has spawned a mental health crisis that is impacting all our organisations. As The Mental Health Foundation reports:
- 37% of 18–24-year-olds are feeling lonely
- 22% of UK adult population feel hopeless
- >50% UK adult population feeling anxious or worried
One major challenge is addressing the needs of the huge numbers involved.
For decades, Scientists have been discovering the somewhat surprising health benefits of VR for pain relief, to PTSD, to substance use. Over 5,000 studies reveal that VR can diminish pain, steady nerves, and boost mental health – and to help address the scale of these challenges it can be delivered at home without a trained clinician!
How? High quality VR scenarios are like ‘real life’ – you feel as if you are there. So, for example, when scientists built simulations for people with eating disorders to experience life by way of a healthy avatar, the user temporarily accepts it as reality. When used in the right way virtual journeys can change body and mind for the better, from the comfort of home.
A great example comes from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where the team have been shipping VR headsets directly to patients prescribing a session on a virtual beach at home to ease aches and pains.
Whilst this kind of service isn’t currently available for us on the NHS, it’s not a huge leap into the future to see that VR will play a part in corporate Well-Being solutions.
As the cost of headsets has decreased, and the quality of applications and connectivity increased, studies like these prove impact. Matched by the demand of the Mental Health crisis, VR can play its part in employee Well-Being, complimenting so many other great solutions.
Beyond gaming, VR has so many applications to become mainstream in the office. One of my favourite applications for VR is communicating and have found that there are 3 powerful things about practicing communicating in VR –
1 – It feels like the real thing – nerves and sweaty palms guaranteed.
2 – It’s a safe space – Practice as many times as you like confronting your inner voice and your real one by playing back your speeches, interview answers or presentations. It builds confidence and skills quickly.
3 – Quality VR solutions give you great feedback – how quick you spoke, how easy you were to listen to, eye contact and even how many umms and ahhs you said!
Whether we are looking to promote well-being and reduce stress through immersive nature scenes, deliver a killer speech or support employees improve their interview technique, its clear VR can help our people in bringing their best self to work – in an active, personalised way.
Sallie Allen, Operations & People Director, enploy – firstname.lastname@example.org 07703 387357