The future of video conferencing could be in VR

Best VR headset
(Image credit: Andrush/Shutterstock)

New research indicates that employees do not yet feel ready to return to the workplace but are growing frustrated by the amount of time spent using video conferencing tools. The study suggests that virtual reality tools could hold the answer to enabling workers to feel more connected to their colleagues while still addressing safety concerns.

Surveying 1000 office workers, VR platform manufacturer HTC Vive found that 74% remain concerned about the risks of returning to work but 36% also expressed exhaustion after being faced with hours of video calls. Interestingly, 58% of employees are open to integrating new technology into the workplace, suggesting that there remains an unexplored business opportunity to be had.

That opportunity could involve VR headsets, which would deliver the flexibility to work from any location while retaining the personal interaction and connection that is usually provided by a physical office. There will be a learning curve to be overcome with the technology, however, with three out of five respondents having not used VR before.

Just like the real thing

“Our research proves there’s a need for VR, as it solves key problems,” Graham Wheeler, General Manager at HTC EMEA, explained. “At HTC Vive we developed lightweight VR headsets and software which helps people to collaborate while also having more natural interactions. We’ve seen companies implement VR to support the workforce for everything from education, design, training and much more. It can be as simple as a board room meeting with presentations, or working on a complex 3D model together. VR has the ability to bring people together, making workplaces more efficient, more collaborative, and allow for more meaningful interactions."

Despite the benefits that VR would bring to the workplace, the technology remains underutilized in a professional setting. Only 19% of the survey respondents saw how virtual reality could be properly implemented in a work environment, while 31% felt it could be too expensive.

Nevertheless, the coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to adapt rapidly, adopting new technologies and processes to keep their employees safe. Virtual reality may simply be a continuation of that trend.

Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.