Extended reality (XR) technologies can help employees customize their job training and retain more of what they learn. Employees with and without disabilities can potentially benefit from XR at work as long as the technology is accessible, and they have a reliable broadband internet connection. Let’s look at a few ways companies currently use XR technologies to increase employee learning opportunities.

How XR Can Support Learning

XR is an umbrella term used to describe virtual, augmented and mixed reality.

Examples of XR Technologies

woman with a virtual reality headset with her hand raised with overlay of digital imagery

Virtual Reality (VR)

VR replaces a user’s real surroundings with a simulated environment and all-digital content. Examples include a manufacturing facility, meeting room, virtual auditorium, outdoor environment or global destination.

A smartphone view of a grocery aisle with virtual discount banners on specific shelves

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR overlays digital content onto a user’s view of the real world, providing a composite view. For example, an AR might provide text, video or audio instructions or directions that are relevant to a type of setting or physical environment.

A man wearing a VR headset looking at a virtual engine

Mixed Reality (MR)

MR allows users to manipulate and experience digital content in their physical environments in real-time. For example, a user might place digital content onto surfaces like real tables or walls, or a remote person might be represented by a hologram that moves around a real room.

XR Can Increase Knowledge

A 2020 PwC study revealed that those using virtual training were up to four times more focused than their peers and up to 275 percent more confident in acting on what they learned. An interesting use-case in mining training showed that, “…the VR training module provided 30 percent of workers with immediate retention improvement after initial training, compared with instructor-led training (ILT), and 86 percent retained knowledge after 30 or more days.” Given the dangerous nature of this work, an increase in knowledge retention is extremely important.

XR Can Help Employees Practice Interactions

Large-scale companies are rolling out empathy training for employees using virtual reality. This use of XR can help employees practice interactions with customers in an immersive environment. Even though the experience focuses on training, it can also help employees who may benefit from practice and repetition before interacting with customers or exploring new job sites. While this application is exciting, we need to use caution when tracking and rating employee reactions, as each person may not express emotions like empathy in the same way. This is a great place to underscore the need for people with disabilities to be involved in the design and development of new technologies to ensure fair outcomes.

XR Can Help with Virtual Onboarding

Accenture created an entire immersive world for employee onboarding. Each employee received a head-mounted display (HMD) and access to the virtual campus to complete their training. A recent Accenture report covered a case study that found, “Associates using VR training reported 30% higher employee satisfaction, scored higher on tests 70% of the time, and logged a 10 to 15% higher rate of knowledge retention than before VR.”

XR Can Create Opportunities

When you explore the learning opportunities that XR can bring to your organization, remember to prioritize accessibility first. By procuring accessible XR technologies, you will help ensure that employees can use them if they develop a permanent, temporary or situational disability. You will also save on costs required to add accessibility in later (if that is even possible) and give employees access to customization options they may never have otherwise explored. Supporting your employees can take many forms and learning with XR is an exciting and innovative one!

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