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.
The COVID pandemic has already changed companies for good. Digitization has been at the top of the agenda ever since. Communicating with customers and employees working with each other had to be quickly converted to completely new processes and IT systems. And after initial problems, video conferences with Zoom or teams have become completely normal and accepted in companies. At the same time, however, the limitations of such solutions are quickly apparent. Video conferencing is a rather passive medium for meetings. It’s easy for participants to lose attention or find ways to not participate in the meeting at all. Moreover, many ways of collaboration are not learned as in reality and do not feel “natural”. As an example, consider a simple whiteboard. Even though 2D tools like Teams offer such features, this is more cumbersome than working together in a room at the whiteboard and drawing with a real pen in hand. The feeling that colleagues are nearby in the same room is missing. Virtual reality can easily enable this, however.
However, there is a widespread belief that after the pandemic, everything will go back to the way it was before and everyone will meet and collaborate as normal. However, this will only be partially true:
- 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 worth. 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.
- The majority of companies are also planning to reduce their own office space precisely because of increased home office use. According to GlobalWorkPlaceAnalytics***, 6 out of 10 companies see considerable savings potential in rent and ancillary costs, cleaning services, catering and taxes, and estimate the volume at up to EUR 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 are not going to ignore these potential savings and are therefore increasingly turning to digital tools.
Thus, it reveals the following calculation:
- 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$9,000 per year in facility management costs. Again, a reduction in costs by more than half through home office seems realistic
- In addition, the company saves travel time per employee. In other words, working efficiency increases because the travel time saved can be invested in productive working time. Calculated per employee and year, experts estimate the productivity gain to have a potential of US$ 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 DAX 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,” 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 were in reality. Basically, almost anything that goes in reality goes in virtual reality, except for the feeling of haptics.
- 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.