Future of the Spatial Web # 4: How companies around the world will save billions by using Virtual Reality.

Sep 7, 2021

The COVID pandemic has permanently changed the world of work. Home office is the “new normal”. Companies can save billions in travel and facility management costs by using Virtual Reality, while increasing employee efficiency and satisfaction.

Die COVID Pandemie hat bereits heute Unternehmen nachhaltig verändert. Digitalisierung steht seither ganz oben auf der Agenda. Die Kommunikation mit Kunden und das Arbeiten von Mitarbeitern untereinander musste schnell auf völlig neue Prozesse und IT-Systeme umgestellt werden. Und nach anfänglichen Problemen sind Video-Konferenzen mit Zoom oder Teams völlig normal geworden und in Unternehmen akzeptiert. Gleichzeitig sind aber die Limitationen solcher Lösungen schnell ersichtlich. Video-Konferenzen sind ein eher passives Medium für Meetings. Leicht verliert der Teilnehmer die Aufmerksamkeit oder findet Wege, gar nicht an dem Meeting teilzunehmen. Zudem sind viele Wege der Zusammenarbeit nicht wie in Realität gelernt und fühlen sich nicht „natürlich“ an. Als Beispiel kann man ein einfaches Whiteboard annehmen. Auch wenn 2D-Tools wie Teams solche Funktionen anbieten, ist dies umständlicher als gemeinsam in einem Raum am Whiteboard zu arbeiten und mit einem echten Stift in der Hand zu zeichnen. Das Gefühl, dass die Kollegen in der Nähe in einem Raum sind, fehlt. Dies kann Virtual Reality aber leicht ermöglichen.

Es ist aber eine weit verbreitete Meinung, dass nach der Pandemie alles wieder so wird, wie zuvor und alle sich ganz normal treffen und zusammenarbeiten werden. Dies wird aber nur teilweise zutreffen:

  • Our working world will change permanently. According to a study by McKinsey**, 90% of HR managers say that flexible home office arrangements will be introduced for employees. These are now expected as “the new normal” by employees and have largely proven their value. But now, when not all employees in a company meet regularly in the office, a company must invest in digital tools that map work processes virtually.
  • Most companies are also planning to reduce their own office space because of increased home office use. According to GlobalWorkPlaceAnalytics***, 6 out of 10 companies see significant savings potential in rent and utilities, cleaning services, catering, and taxes, and estimate the potential savings at up to US$ 9,000 per year and employee.
  • According to a report by McKinsey**, 50% of all companies will cut their travel budgets by 50% or more in the next few years. The reason is simple, despite using digital tools during COVID, employee productivity was not significantly lower. Companies don’t leave these savings potentials “lying around” and therefore increasingly rely on digital tools.

Thus, it allows the following calculation to emerge:

  • The average travel cost per business trip for hotels, vehicle and flights is about US$ 950 per year* in companies worldwide, according to Certify. These costs could be cut at least in half by using digital tools.
  • One employee incurs approximately US$9,000 per year in facility management costs. Here, too, a reduction in costs by more than half through home office seems realistic.
  • In addition, the company saves travel time per employee. In other words, working efficiency increases because the travel time saved can be invested in productive working time. Per employee and year, experts estimate the productivity gain to have a potential of US$ 8 – 12,000 per year.

This results in a total savings potential per employee and year of more than US$ 11,000. If we look at the whole issue for a NASDAQ company with 50,000 employees and assume that the above benefits are applicable to 50% of the workforce, this means a savings potential of US$ 275 million per year! Economically, the total savings figure is in the billions and companies will not be able or willing to ignore this. In addition, there are many “soft” factors that bring additional benefits to companies. These include satisfied employees who can work better together despite physical distance, or a better environmental footprint for a company that lets employees travel less.

At the same time, however, companies need to invest more in digital technologies that facilitate natural collaboration. This is not possible with 2D video conferencing solutions alone and new technologies are needed. Virtual Reality solutions bring companies one step closer to making distributed work more human.

How can technologies like Virtual Reality contribute to this?

  • People can meet face-to-face with so-called “avatars”, which are virtual characters of themselves. These are becoming more realistic and allow people to talk to each other, move around, touch and use objects with their hands, among other things, just as if they would act in reality. Basically, almost anything that goes in reality is possible in Virtual Reality, except for the feeling of haptic feedback when touching an object.
  • Virtual Reality is not just dependent on having VR goggles. Virtual worlds can also be displayed in 3D on the 2D screen of a tablet or PC. It’s quite like playing a computer game with friends and meeting your virtual characters. So, it’s easy to use in businesses, even if VR headsets aren’t everywhere yet.
  • Future VR hardware will be lighter and less expensive. In addition, all manufacturers are investing in enterprise-ready glasses that can be integrated seamlessly, like a PC or smartphone, into the IT security architecture of companies. This includes Microsoft with the Hololens or HTC with the Vive Pro 3.

Thus, in sum, the following can be summarized:

  • Virtual Reality is not a “COVID flash in the pan”, but a megatrend for the digital working world of tomorrow.
  • Companies can significantly save costs and increase their employee profitability and efficiency.
  • The acceptance of Virtual Reality is higher than ever before, especially because employees can easily grasp and experience the benefits for themselves.

Zreality is dedicated to making the working world of the future better. We connect people in virtual spaces. We provide companies with easy-to-use 3D, virtual and augmented reality software. Zreality Grids is the best all-in-one solution to enable people to work, meet and learn in immersive 3D environments.

What might a workday in the future look like with Zreality Grids? Watch the video here.

*https://www.certify.com/Infographic-TheAverageCostOfBusinessTravel.aspx

** https://www.mckinsey.de/news/presse/mckinsey-global-institute-future-of-work-after-covid-19

*** https://www.business.com/articles/working-from-home-save-money/