Virtual Reality for Meetings: Collaboration at Scale

Discover how virtual reality technology can improve meetings, enhancing collaboration, inclusion, and productivity. From benefits to real-world use cases.
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Using Virtual Reality for Meetings

Virtual reality (VR) offers unique advantages for a variety of applications, including meetings and collaboration. With advancements in technology and increasing affordability, it’s more accessible than ever. This article will explore the benefits of using VR for meetings, its advantages, common challenges, and real-world examples of success.

The Rise of Virtual Reality in Business

In the business world, VR is used for everything from training and simulations to product design and marketing. One of the most exciting applications of VR in business is for meetings and collaboration.

Virtual reality meetings allow participants to feel like they are in the same room, even thousands of miles apart. This technology has revolutionized how businesses conduct meetings, eliminating the need for travel and allowing for more flexibility in scheduling. Participants can easily share documents and presentations with VR meetings, making collaboration more immersive.

Another benefit of VR meetings is the ability to create an immersive experience. With traditional video conferencing, it can be challenging to maintain focus and engagement. Many of us have been on that call where half the participants aren’t even on video. The other half are struggling with lighting or angles. One of your colleagues is all chin because their laptop is far too low, and another keeps fading in and out of the blurred background effect as if they were an apparition. With VR, participants enter a new world together, feeling genuinely present in the meeting. This leads to increased productivity and better outcomes.

Key Advantages of VR Meetings

Enhanced Collaboration and Communication

One of the most significant advantages of VR meetings is enhancing collaboration and communication between team members. By creating a sense of presence and immersion, VR can help participants feel like they are in the same room, regardless of their physical location. This sense of presence can help to facilitate more natural conversations and interactions, leading to more productive meetings and collaborations.

For example, imagine a team of engineers working on a complex project. In a traditional forum, they may have to rely on conference calls or video conferencing, making it difficult to fully understand each other’s ideas. With VR meetings, the engineers can stand in the same virtual room, seeing and interacting with each other’s work in real-time. This immersive functionality can lead to better collaboration and more innovative solutions.

A sense of presence can also increase inclusion and awareness, leading to a broader range of thoughts and solutions. Video conferencing can create an intimidating environment that may hinder some people from hitting the unmute button and sharing. On average, people who may otherwise feel overlooked are more comfortable sharing in VR. Creating an environment where more opinions, thoughts, and solutions are shared helps to drive an organization forward.

Cost-Savings and Reduced Travel

Another advantage of VR meetings is the potential for cost savings and reduced travel. With VR, participants can attend meetings from anywhere, eliminating the need for costly travel expenses and reducing the time and logistics associated with travel. This not only saves businesses money but also helps to reduce their carbon footprint.

For example, a team of sales representatives across the country can all attend a virtual sales meeting without having to fly to a central location. Cutting travel expenses can save a company thousands of dollars and reduce the time and stress associated with travel.

Increased Engagement and Immersion

VR meetings can also increase engagement and immersion, helping to keep participants focused and attentive during meetings. Participants can remain engaged and focused during meetings by utilizing interactive environments and tools, increasing productivity and reducing distractions.

For example, imagine a marketing team brainstorming ideas for a new campaign. In a traditional meeting, team members may get distracted or lose focus. VR meetings, on the other hand, can immerse attendees in a virtual environment specifically designed to enhance creativity and collaboration. Filling the virtual environment with campaign concepts, previous marketing materials, or inspiring artwork can also act to inspire and engage team members. This can lead to innovative ideas and a more successful campaign.

Customizable and Flexible Meeting Environments

Finally, VR meetings offer customizable and flexible meeting environments, allowing teams to create unique and immersive spaces for their meetings. Whether it’s a virtual boardroom, conference center, or even a digital beach, VR meetings afford unparalleled flexibility and creativity in designing meeting spaces.

For example, a team of architects presenting their designs to a client can create a virtual environment that allows the client to walk through the building and experience it in a way that is impossible with traditional presentations. This can lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the design and increase the likelihood of a successful project.

Overcoming Common Challenges in VR Meetings

While the benefits of VR meetings are numerous, there are also some common challenges that businesses and individuals may face when adopting this technology. Let’s look at some challenges and some simple ways to prepare to overcome them.

Addressing Technical Issues and Connectivity

One of the most significant challenges of VR meetings is addressing technical issues and ensuring connectivity between participants. While advancements in technology have made VR more accessible, technical hurdles must be overcome. One example is providing sufficient bandwidth for a smooth and seamless experience.

While network advancements have made bandwidth issues less common, working with a trusted technology partner who can ensure you have the proper support is still important. Additionally, it’s important to conduct testing before the meeting to ensure all participants have a stable and reliable connection. These steps are no different than those that should be taken when running video calls, as network speeds can cause problems with any type of online meeting.

Ensuring User Comfort and Accessibility

Another challenge is ensuring user comfort and accessibility, particularly for those who may experience motion sickness or have trouble wearing a VR headset. Providing adequate training and support, and taking steps to customize the VR experience for each user, can help address these challenges.

For example, some users may benefit from adjusting the field of view or graphics settings to reduce motion sickness. Others may require additional support or accommodations to ensure they are comfortable and able to participate fully in the meeting. Thankfully, VR technologies offer numerous options for accessibility and accommodation needs.

Navigating the Learning Curve for New Users

Finally, a learning curve associated with adopting new technology, and VR is no exception. Businesses and individuals must be willing to invest time and resources into training to ensure that participants are comfortable and proficient with meetings in VR.

Fortunately, many resources are available to help users navigate this learning curve. Online tutorials, training programs, and support forums can be valuable tools for effectively learning how to use VR technology. The ArborXR Help Center and company Blog also offers many informative guides to help improve user adoption. Working with an experienced VR provider or consultant can provide valuable guidance and support.

While there are challenges associated with adopting virtual meetings, these challenges can be overcome with proper planning, preparation, and support. By addressing technical issues, ensuring users are comfortable with VR headsets, and providing adequate training and education, businesses and individuals can harness the many benefits of VR meetings to enhance collaboration, productivity, and engagement.

Real-World Examples of VR Meetings

While there are challenges to adopting VR for meetings, many businesses have already found success. Like yourself, XR champions saw an opportunity to prove that a more immersive and engaging meeting experience could enhance collaboration and productivity. To help build and cast your vision, let’s look at some applications and use cases of virtual reality in meetings.

Large-Scale Meetings with Virtual Reality

Global retailer Adidas cut down on cost overrun and inefficient workflows using virtual reality for meetings. At the start of each selling season, hundreds of stakeholders would fill a massive auditorium to listen to the Selling Season Kickoff. Historically, the keynote would share product line positioning, benefits, messaging, and sales tactics with 2D slides. The process was an inefficient game of telephone, as stakeholders would have to translate the information to their teams in different mediums. In partnership with The Wild, a VR platform for collaboration and coordination, Adidas presents its entire Selling Season Kickoff in the virtual world.

Adidas brand strategist Brook Clemens said, “The Wild allowed us to utilize a collaborative platform that immersed key stakeholders in an environment with more complete information to work from, as well as a chance to work together to make changes in the same virtual space.”

Engaging Client Presentations with Virtual Reality

Societe Generale is a leading European financial services group operating in 62 countries worldwide. One of their high-demand services is that of financial market analysis meetings. Historically, these business meetings were often held in person due to the complexity of their content.

In partnership with Arthur, creator of enterprise-level collaboration software, they began to employ VR for meetings. Virtual reality has allowed Societe Generale to have more frequent interactions with clients and optimize client experiences. Analysts can present market analysis and data visualization with customer 3D models and virtual whiteboards. They can also build customized meeting rooms that fit the nature of specific meetings and clientele.

“Arthur allows us to connect with our clients in an innovative and efficient way. The vast virtual spaces enable us to dive deep into our analysis and provide our clients with more content –– with the right experts for the topic present, no matter where they might physically be.”

– Frank Burkhardt, Managing Director of Société Générale

Driving Inclusion with Virtual Reality Meetings

Dsgnrswrkshp is a collective of Black designers and makers that focuses on reversing the lack of Black representation in the field of design. In 2021, with pandemic restrictions in place, Dsgnrswrkshp searched for a way to create an online gathering that could foster authentic conversations.

In partnership with VR app creator MootUp, they created a fully immersive meeting experience in VR. Virtual reality allowed attendees to network and share ideas in a new way. The event had 147 guests, and MootUp shared that each attendee made an average of 40 new connections. With Mootup and the power of VR, Dsgnrswrkshp built an engaging and encouraging experience in a challenging time.

From Zoom to Virtual Reality

Milan Topolic, Innovation and technology manager at Coca-Cola HBC, sought to improve his online team meetings. With a fully remote team, video conferencing was historically the medium they used to connect, but Topolic felt they could do more. In partnership with Frame VR, Topolic and his team began planning a meeting for 85 people in virtual reality. They built customized effects to match their brand. They offered attendees control of their avatars’ appearance, which bred fun and creativity. They also provided a range of games and team-building activities.

Topolic said, “This project offered us food for thought about what would be the possibility for the company (for example, customer interaction), but also making the meeting room a little more exciting and enjoyable – sometimes it’s all we need to keep us going. It can potentially restore much of the social capital that Covid-19 depleted.

For me, building the atmosphere and witnessing how other people reacted to it provided a wealth of insight into how we might improve the places where we usually carry out our jobs. The enthusiasm and willingness of so many of my coworkers to try out this new approach to the workplace was encouraging.”

Creating Company Headquarters in Virtual Reality

Milan Topolic, Innovation and technology manager at Coca-Cola HBC, sought to improve his online team meetings. With a fully remote team, video conferencing was historically the medium they used to connect, but Topolic felt they could do more. In partnership with Frame VR, Topolic and his team began planning a meeting for 85 people in virtual reality. They built customized effects to match their brand. They offered attendees control of their avatars’ appearance, which bred fun and creativity. They also provided a range of games and team-building activities.

"I predict that companies and enterprises will have, just like an intranet, they’ll have their own type of Metaverse platform."

The utilization of unique virtual offices is a hot topic. With the growth of remote work over the last three years, engaging employees and clients in new ways has never been more important. ZOAN, an innovative 3D content studio, is taking the VR space to the next level by building their entire headquarters in a completely virtual environment. They believe that large-scale VR environments can increase remote collaboration and drive productivity. It’s hard to disagree after looking at the environment they have begun creating.

Scaling VR Meetings with ArborXR

Managing a few devices can be time-consuming. Managing dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of devices without a powerful management platform is nearly impossible. Think about a meeting, conference, or event that you’ve attended. Now, imagine planning that event in VR. What are some of the challenges that you might face?

  • How do you ensure headsets are up-to-date without holding each one in your hand?
  • How do you share content with every device without wasting hours and hours of your time?
  • How do you control the in-headset experience during a presentation?
  • How do you ensure only approved attendees can access your meeting?

The answer to these questions, and many more, is to use an XR device manager like ArborXR. We offer a powerful platform that allows you to bring collaboration to life. Take a look at how ArborXR would help you answer the questions above.

With ArborXR, you can automatically set applications to update to the latest version without manual intervention.

With ArborXR, you can deploy content to grouped devices with just a few clicks, saving you countless hours of time.

ArborXR offers kiosk mode, which allows you to control what applications launch across a group of devices.

With ArborXR, you can connect your Single Sign On service provider, which enforces authentication standards for improved security and privacy.

Whether you’re holding a meeting for a few very important clients or inviting hundreds to attend a kickoff event, ArborXR can help you scale to success. Contact us or get started today if you are considering using virtual reality for meetings and collaboration!

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