In one of the certification preparation classes I teach we were discussing orientation and onboarding. I mention that I feel that one of the tools of the future for HR will be the use of virtual reality, in this case as an orientation tool. Today I came across an article in The Guardian online talking about the use of virtual reality as a substitute for trade shows. This article made me think that perhaps there were greater uses for virtual reality in HR that just orientation.
Not just a special effect on TV
I used to watch Star Trek and was always envious of the Holodeck, that place on the Enterprise that allowed crew members to take time off and be immersed in the vacation or experience of their choice. The technology we have today is not quite up to that level but virtual reality is being used in a number of settings. One company, Hyperfair, has created the tools for a virtual trade show. It allows organizers to offer a trade show type of experience to both companies wishing to display goods and for attendees to “walk” around the trade show floor without actually leaving their place of business. It allows live interchange and discussion, via avatars, and allows for an exchange of business cards. It is a live event with actual one-on-one discussions it just happens in virtual space. If someone wants an actual face-to-face then Skype can be utilized. Hyperfair also advertises they can set up job-fairs as well.
So how can HR use virtual reality? Here are some of my ideas.
Recruiting– By having virtual reality experience available candidates can tour the company, be interviewed and get a realistic job preview all from the comfort of their home. Some organizations use video for this currently, but that does not allow for an interaction with a company recruiter. The use of virtual reality would be a live event on both ends of the Internet.
Onboarding– HR is often overworked and taking the time to orient and onboard new employees can be time consuming. With a virtual reality set up you can have new employees experience being welcomed by the President, meet fellow employees and be taught the in-and- outs of the organization before they ever actually set foot in the department they will be working in. It is an excellent way to get an employee that is going to work remotely connected with the company.
Hands-on training– Training an employee to use a piece of equipment can be both expensive and dangerous. Virtual reality offers the opportunity for employees to be trained that allows them to make mistakes without damaging either themselves or expensive equipment. The Army already uses a combination of simulators and virtual reality to train soldiers on sophisticated battle equipment.
There are probably more uses than I have listed here. In fact I ask you to comment on what uses you see HR might get from virtual reality. Please do so in the comments below.
Virtual reality is not quite there yet, but it is coming and it is important for HR professionals to be familiar with this potential valuable tool in order to be able to argue the strategic value to your organization.