VR Virtual reality employee communication
Virtual reality employee communication

VR is ready to rock your employees

Virtual reality (VR) is designed to give people extraordinary experiences, and that is exactly what we want to give employees, right? Let’s take a dive into why VR is the perfect fit for employee communication.

By: Andreas Ringsted, Creative Advisor (September 6, 2017)

You cannot flip through a communication site without stumbling upon at least a few articles about VR claiming: ‘VR, the next big thing’, or ‘Everything you need to know about VR’. Nonetheless, VR is still a new channel when counting how many are using it actively as a tool.

Especially when it comes to employee communication, VR is new, even though – if you ask me – everyone having employees as their target group should at least consider VR as a part of their communication mix. The major advantage of VR is giving people memorable and extraordinary experiences. And who doesn’t want to give that to their employees?

At Open, we have been working with integrating VR in employee communication. Based on our experiences, here are our thoughts on the big what, why, and how when considering VR as part of the employee communication framework.

Virtual reality

The Sensorama, the first 3D viewer from 1950

So, what is it?
First, let’s answer what VR actually is. It is about allowing your audiences to experience and interact with a virtual world by putting on VR goggles with input from a computer, or a smartphone.

VR can be either a linear or interactive story created as 360° video, or in a 3D environment. Together with stereo sound, this creates a rich, immersive and believable experience.

VR in employee communication
Besides being immersive, VR is exploratory. It gives your viewer a feeling of control. But most significantly, you have their undivided attention. This is the main argument for why VR is a perfect tool to activate and engage employees. Once donning the VR goggles, there are no bleeping phones, no nagging e-mails, and no disturbing colleagues to compete for attention. In a fast-paced work environment, this is a rare opportunity for the communicator.

This opens new opportunities in areas like onboarding, safety, and change communication. In global organizations, you can show corners of the company instead of sending employees on expensive trips. And in safety communication, you can give the audience a much better understanding, for example by letting them experience production before they set foot on the floor.

Moreover, with increased focus on the technology, VR devices have become much cheaper, and with a relatively small investment in gear, the company can push their VR videos out to the organization.

virtual reality employee communication

Hold on your hats and goggles. Just another day at the office getting everyone onboard in what VR actually is about, and what it can do.

Think big, execute small
When we first got the chance to use VR as part of an employee communication project, my storytelling sense was tingling. The narrative could not be complex enough.

However, we quickly discovered that the information delivered in a VR video needs to be even more straight to the point than in conventional video. In VR, the visual experience takes up so much of the viewer’s attention that it leaves little space for complex narration.

Also, we found out defining the why and what in detail is even more important in VR communication than in other formats. A few pointers for starting your new VR project:

Think big in the brainstorm process

  1. Involve relevant stakeholders early in the brainstorm process and give them a chance to experience VR in its various forms.
  2. Use for instance ‘How might we’ questions, known from design thinking to kick-start the innovative process and create exciting storytelling ideas.
  3. Use a mind-map to map the goal: ‘what should the viewer feel’, ‘what should they learn’, and ‘what are the primary and secondary topics’.

Execute small and precise

  1. Focus on one primary topic, and allow one or two secondary topics.
  2. Use short and precise narration.
  3. Keep the experience short, 3-4 minutes at the most.

Employee reactions say it all
Even though the implementation of VR in many digital distribution platforms, such as Valve Steam and Sony PlayStation, have made VR more common, many people have never tried it themselves. So, for many people, the experience itself will be an eye-opener.

Earlier this year, we created a VR video for a client as part of a large culture project. Project ambassadors travelled world-wide to have dialogues with employees about the project, using VR to fuel the dialogue. Besides an overwhelming positive response and incredible wow-factor, the VR video sparked curiosity, and we even experienced that people sought out more information about the project by themselves.

I truly believe VR is here to stay, simply because this kind of immersive storytelling is so powerful. Eventually virtual, augmented, and mixed reality will become an integrated part of our workspace. For now, let’s embrace VR as a new communication tool and use it to its full extent, creatively but practically.

–o0o–

Four facts about VR

  • Generation Z and Millennials are interested in trying virtual reality, but so is Baby Boomers. 64% of Baby Boomers have positive feelings about virtual reality.
  • +75% of the Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands have created some form of virtual reality or augmented reality experience for customers or employees, or are themselves developing these technologies.
  • British travel group Thomas Cook reported a 190% increase in tours booked to New York City after offering a virtual reality experience of the city in their stores.
  • Amnesty International reported a 16% increase in direct-debit donations brought on by its VR campaign (source: youvisit.com).