How virtual reality is changing workplace training

Where are we at with VR training?

Using state-of-the-art facilities in Svenborg, Denmark, and Houston, Texas, BP is using virtual reality to ensure that staff and contractors can learn how to work in the specific conditions of a drilling operation. The VR simulation features the same rocks, temperatures and pressures and even the same physical impact of the ocean currents to ensure that it truly replicates critical jobs on the rig.

According to BP, this training in the virtual world is helping BP to drill more safely and efficiently in the real world. The hands-on, scenario-based approach goes well beyond traditional classroom training and allows drilling teams to practice events and joint procedures together as an integrated unit. BP’s use of the technology in this way seems to point to the tangible possibilities of VR in employee training, but the capital costs are not cheap. BP has invested significantly in its training infrastructure across the world to make this VR collaboration possible and it is not alone.

Working on an offshore oil rig can be an intense and at times potentially dangerous endeavour, which is why Total, like BP, has turned to VR for training and is using Siemens’ 3D software in order to help train its staff before embarking overseas. The French oil and gas giant has been using Immersive Training Simulator (ITS), based on the Comos Walkinside software solution from Siemens, in order to increase overall safety and maximise raw material production. The technology sends trainees through an immersive 3D Virtual Reality replica of their working environments, enabling them to visualise tasks at hand and prepare for a number of emergency scenarios. More and more companies across a wealth of sectors are looking to VR for their training needs.

Simon Wright, technology executive in charge of VR/AR for Genesys, believes that VR is a perfect fit for training. Genesys has been using the technology in its contact centre agent training and reaping good results. “The focus in agent training is, can we simulate ‘real-life’ customer engagements and experiences in the contact centre for agents so that when they speak to a customer they have almost been there themselves?” he says.

Wright cites the example of an agent able to articulate the benefits of a hotel because it has wonderful views of the ocean because she has seen it through VR training. Then there is the case of an emergency services contact centre employee who can understand or empathise with an older person because they have seen a day in the life of a typical senior citizen.

Virtual Reality brings the training to life and helps employees get to grips with the realities of situations that they might encounter in the course of their employment. “To be able to problem solve in real-time with VR is a fantastic way to do something you can’t do with PowerPoint deck and role play or at least not as well,” he says.

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