COVID has hit working habits much as the meteor hit the dinosaurs – shunting gradual evolution onto a different faster track and creating opportunities for those with the adaptive abilities to seize them. In this blog, we examine how the pandemic has accelerated the next big revolution and impacted key areas of business as a result.
Human history has been punctuated by revolutions. Looking back as far as 60,000BC the so-called Cognitive Revolution saw the emergence of language, allowing knowledge to pass from person to person reliably and cumulatively. Every subsequent lurch forward has accelerated the pace of change, with at least one major revolution marking each of the last few centuries. Scientific in the 17th, agricultural in the 18th, industrial in the 19th and digital in the 20th. Respectively enabling the scaling and distribution of discovery, production, manufacture and information. The 21st century is already seeing a similar shift, this time towards something more wide spread and personal. A Virtual Revolution.
The world-as-experienced has several features, it is immersive (all around us), 3-dimensional (objects can be near or far away), dynamic (things move), textured (multi-sensory) and interactive (altered by our choices and actions). This set of features was once available only to those physically present in a particular location at a particular time. But technology has made it possible to capture and represent them all in sufficient detail and depth to create a highly convincing illusion… for anyone… anywhere… at any time.
How COVID pandemic accelerated the Virtual Revolution
The Virtual Revolution was in its infancy in January of 2020. Virtual brand experiences were not recognised as being essential for business. They were seen as luxury options for large or technologically advanced organisations with larger budgets – bolt-ons to established digital ways of working. Remote working, team structures and meeting formats often relied on these ‘traditional’ digital tools. Tools that staff felt comfortable with and knew how to control. Virtual tools were not widely used, nor much wanted.
And then? Lockdown. Suddenly 6 out of 10 employees were working from home and everyone became intimately acquainted with Zoom and MS Teams, seemingly overnight. People had to adapt quickly. Many people loved working from home, others not so much. Most companies are now looking at hybrid options, ensuring people can continue to work from home at least part of the time.
But remote working lacked something of working in the real world. Zoom fatigue became a well known phenomenon. And this is where virtual tools were able to make their mark. Virtual tools can get closer to the physical ways we communicate, collaborate and socialise can bridge that gap between remote and real world working.
Companies need tools that could go beyond cloud computing and video conferencing and for digital solutions that can improve morale and efficiency into the future. There are growing needs for technological solutions in sales, recruitment, training, open days, trade shows and events. New virtual tools are emerging to meet these needs.
Who’s been impacted by the virtual revolution so far? And in what areas of business?
Education providers: Open days at Universities and institutions have always been done in person. Convincing a parent or a carer to drive you halfway across the country to see if you preferred Birmingham or Brighton was a rite of passage. When this became impossible last year, lots of Universities adapted their open days to work online. And work they did! Colleges and Universities that made the decision to go virtual say that this has transformed the interest they get from students and generated real excitement.
Training teams: In person training is rapidly being replaced by virtual training. VR training in soft skills such as leadership and change management beats traditional training methods. VR training can open up environments that would be expensive, dangerous or limited in the real world. The powerful emotional effects of immersion in a VR experience can also boost recall far more effectively than traditional workplace training. Statistics show that VR training can reduce training time by 40% and improve employee performance by 70%.
Sales teams: Working in Sales typically meant a lot of time on the road, with high costs that were rarely challenged. This has changed dramatically over the last year and a half, as has the way people want to make purchases. Sales teams need retraining so that they become skilled and confident at selling through virtual platforms. 70% of organisations have already begun the process.
Recruitment and HR departments: With potentially more people than ever before re-entering the workplace this year, there’s a need to go virtual in order to cope with what otherwise could be a head spinning rush. Virtual job interviews, virtual tours, interactive videos of current staff and voice notes from CEOs, have streamlined the recruitment process, eradicated unnecessary costs and improved diversity. It has also helped to expand the available pool of candidates and is revolutionizing how companies attract talent.
Who is next to be impacted by the revolution? What trends can we expect next?
Stay tuned for our next blog next week…
For now, in summary, the Virtual Revolution is truly here and here to stay. Virtual reality and all the tools that it can offer are making a positive impact across a wide range of industries. Don’t get left behind. Contact us to see how you too can become a front runner in this latest Revolution!