Education & TrainingGuest PostVirtual Reality

Why Your Next Workplace Training Session Might Be in the Belly of a Volcano

Thanks to advances in VR, the world of workplace learning and development might finally be something to get excited about.


Whoever said workplace training had to be boring? Thanks to advances in virtual reality, the world of workplace learning and development might finally be something to get excited about…and not a moment too soon.

In the world of training, education, and development, what’s fun and what’s effective are often one and the same. Educators have understood for quite some time that engagement is critical to the learning process. And there’s no quicker way to lose someone’s interest than boring them or lulling them to sleep.

A disengaged student is a student that isn’t learning, and that’s why we find that fun is very much an essential ingredient to the learning process. However, while educators have known this to be true for quite some time, it seems that, in the corporate world, this lesson has yet to truly sink in.

Can you remember the last time you took part in workplace training? If not, that might be because it wasn’t very memorable. If you’re like most people, your experience with workplace training probably amounts to sitting in a drab, windowless room and struggling to keep your eyes open as a grainy video drones at you from a television set in the corner.

Workplace Learning and Development Don’t Have to Be a Drag

Thanks to the emergence of technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality, however, this drab form of corporate training may soon be a thing of the past. Companies are realizing that they can save a considerable amount of time, money, and other resources on training and development. With these portable, cost-effective technologies, organizations can upskill a distributed workforce in a way that’s interactive, inclusive, and sustainable.

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In my time working with Gemba, we’ve worked with the companies like Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, and Pfizer to deliver immersive, impactful VR training programs, all while eliminating up to $2M in travel costs and over a ton of CO2  per trainee.

For organizations big and small, that’s a real, meaningful step towards sustainability — and, unlike most other sustainability initiatives, this transition doesn’t entail sacrifice. On the contrary, we’ve found that VR-based training is not only cheaper and more sustainable than traditional forms of training, but it’s actually more effective.

Fun and Efficiency Make VR Training an Inevitability

In our experience helping companies train and develop their employees, we’ve found that the use of VR is associated with significant improvements in educational efficacy.

While many might intuitively understand this, independent research has shown that making the learning process fun or enjoyable not only improves students’ willingness to engage in learning, but also improves their ability to retain information — even if the information itself is dull.

And this phenomenon isn’t unique to students. In fact, we’ve seen the same effect being borne out time and time again in our own work with professionals. An assessment of Gemba’s VR-enabled training with automotive technology supplier, Aptiv, found that a more immersive, engaging, and enjoyable learning experience led to faster, more effective training.

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An independent case study of the program, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF),  found that Aptiv was able to reduce what was originally two days of in-person training to just four hours of VR-enabled training. The study concluded that, overall, the use of Gemba’s VR-enabled training allowed Aptiv to upskill its workforce with 80% greater efficiency, compared to real-world training.

And there’s a very real need for more efficient, effective workplace training. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), over one billion workers globally will need to be upskilled by the year 2030. As technological advancements continue to reconfigure our world, organizations will be hard-pressed to find fast, effective, and scalable means of upskilling such a sizable portion of the workforce.

With VR, The Sky’s No Limit

It’s for these reasons that VR-enabled training’s mainstream adoption is all but an inevitability. Already, leading global enterprises like Unilever, Volvo, L’Oreal, and Nike are making use of VR-enabled training to optimize workforce development. And at the same time, advances in both hardware and software are making virtual and augmented reality platforms more impressive by the minute.

This begs the question — if you can hold a virtual meeting anywhere, why do it in a virtual recreation of some drab, lifeless conference room? Why not in the belly of a volcano? Or a castle floating above the clouds? Or at the bottom of the ocean? Why create a pixel-perfect digital twin of your cramped office space when you can convene anywhere on (or off) Earth?

I know what some of you are thinking — “That sounds rather childish,” or “That seems unprofessional.” To which, I’d respond, is being boring a prerequisite for professionalism?

I’ve had the luxury of working with a wide range of people and professionals throughout my career. I’ve worked in the gaming industry, been a university lecturer, and worked extensively with corporate leadership from around the world. Across all these spaces and demographics I’ve found one thing to be true — people like having fun. As a CTO myself, I can tell you from first-hand experience that you don’t magically become a dullard the moment they put a “C” in front of your title.

And we can expect businesses to be on board as well. Given enjoyment’s proven ability to make learning more effective, you can rest assured that organizations will be eager to inject VR training with all manner of fanciful, gamified fun. And I, for one, can’t wait.

Guest Post

About the Guest Author(s)

Frankie Cavanagh
Frankie Cavanagh
CTO | Gemba | + posts

Frankie is a visionary leader, an innovative technologist, and a game-changer in the world of virtual reality and learning. His background in teaching, combined with his passion for game design and XR technology and his skills as an artist, designer, and coder, gives him a unique ability to create immersive and engaging experiences that revolutionize how businesses train and develop their workforce.