Virtual Reality (VR) has been around for a long time and has been traditionally associated with gaming and entertainment. However today, forward-looking professionals in the facilities services sector are deploying the technology in areas such as training. We asked Russell Dean, Director of Operations, and an early adopter of VR, to share his thoughts and experiences. Here’s what he had to say:
Could you explain how VR is being used in the facilities sector?
“VR, which many people associate with gaming, is now making waves in facilities management. It’s all about training. VR provides a platform where teams can practice their skills in a simulated environment. It’s like a rehearsal, but without any real-world consequences.”
Could you elaborate on how this immersive training works?
“With VR headsets, teams can step into a virtual world that’s interactive and immersive. It’s a bit like being in a video game, but the scenarios are real-world situations they might face in their jobs. They can navigate these environments and respond to incidents, which helps them sharpen their decision-making and problem-solving skills.”
And how does this apply to the actual workspace?
“Imagine stepping into a 360-degree virtual environment that mirrors your actual workplace. Cleaning and Security teams can practice managing unexpected situations in this virtual setting. It’s a safe and controlled way to learn and prepare.
What about the benefits of VR training in terms of knowledge retention and cost efficiency?
“Studies, like one from the National Training Laboratory, suggest that VR-based training can boost knowledge retention rates by up to 75%. That’s because VR makes learning more engaging and memorable. And in terms of cost, a report by PwC indicates that VR could help reduce training costs by up to 52% in certain sectors. It provides a uniform training experience and optimises resources, which could save a lot of money in the long run.”
Does VR training also offer safety benefits?
“One of the biggest advantages of VR training is that it’s almost risk-free. In real life, training scenarios might involve potential hazards like accidents or property damage. But in VR, teams can practice and learn without any of these risks. It’s a safe space to gain expertise and confidence.”
Are there any limitations or challenges to using VR in facilities management?
Like any technology, VR isn’t without its challenges. The setup and maintenance costs can be high, which might be a hurdle for smaller companies. Some users might also experience discomfort or “cybersickness” when using VR. And there’s a potential for an isolating effect, as VR is a solitary experience. But as the technology evolves, we’re finding ways to balance these challenges with the benefits.