4x Faster, Much More Effective, and Fun – How VR Transforms Soft Skills Training

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It may sound banal, but today having well-developed soft skills (or human skills as they are sometimes being called) is more important than ever before. This is true for pretty much any employee, and any company. From a formal addition to your professional skill set (so called hard skills), soft skills are consistently turning into an all important competitive advantage, for a number of reasons. 

At the time when automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are booming, human workers still outperform the machines. Primarily the communication, problem solving, and other skills that remain to be a human prerogative. 92% of businesses surveyed said that human capabilities (which is another term for soft skills) do matter as much or more than hard skills in today’s business world, according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Global talent trends report.

Why soft skills are getting more important than ever

The importance of developing soft skills to drive value creation is especially high in a turbulent economy, which is most certainly the case for the most part of 2020. Tough times are always the time for business to concentrate on increasing efficiency and becoming more productive. Updating the technologies and implementing innovations is one way to do that. But in this world, people still come first (at least so far).

There are not that many ways to make people work better and more effective. Proper communication and well-established team collaboration usually play a major role here, and this is when human skills come on stage. Turns out, things like relationship with colleagues, the ability to establish communication in the team and maintaining a positive and work-encouraging atmosphere do matter. 

Upon realizing this, companies, big and small, started adding soft skills employee training to their expenditure budgets. The only problem is, it’s not very wise, let alone often against the rules, to conduct such training in real life mode these days, in a time of COVID-19 crisis and social distancing. But even if we set epidemic problems aside, it is still very clear that old conventional methods are no longer effective.

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VR technology as a modern way to conduct soft skills training

Luckily for businesses and employees, new technologies are here to the rescue. Today companies in various industries and market sectors are rushing to implement Virtual Reality (VR) for their human skills training as a better, more effective, and cheaper way to do this.

The VR technology in 2020 is a lot more than just an attempt to replace live conversation or problem solving training activities with computer graphics and virtual interaction. Modern-day VR provides previously unseen opportunities for creating truly effective and immersive training courses with an incredible level of interaction and extremely positive feedback from learners. 

What makes VR so much better? Let’s take a look at some of the most important and proven benefits of VR-based soft skills training for businesses.

VR training is much faster

Time is money. It is even more so when the economy is reeling and currencies lose value faster than normally. 

According to a new study by PwC, VR-based soft skills training is by far the most time-efficient way to conduct any kind of dialog training or human skills training. What takes over two hours to learn in the classroom could be possibly learnt by using VR in less than 30 minutes, researchers say. Even if you take into account the time for people to learn about VR headset and get used to it, VR-learners still complete training three times faster. Impressive, isn’t it? And these figures only account for the time actually spent on training, without the time a person would need to travel to the classroom. 

The timing factor alone has been crucial in driving the popularity of VR soft skills training, especially when it comes to training highly-skilled employees and leadership. Considering the time to spend on the course usually is very limited (and very expensive for the company), VR becomes a definite go-to choice for a conversation training (as an example), instead of conventional face-to-face and pen-and-paper methods.

Source: PwC VR Soft Skills Training Efficacy Study, 2020

VR training is much more fun and immersive

Another very important factor contributing to the growing popularity of VR in soft skills training is the fact that VR technology makes it much more immersive, emotionally stimulating and thus, fun for most people. The same study by PwC has shown that VR-learners felt 3.75 times more emotionally connected to the content than classroom learners and 2.3 times more connected than e-learners. 

This is crucially important, especially when it comes to soft skills courses taught to learners who are not highly motivated to learn. This is the case with various trainings done by the public sector organizations and meant for all kinds of generally unmotivated or poorly motivated audiences: elderly people, convicted offenders, government workers, etc.

Source: PwC VR Soft Skills Training Efficacy Study, 2020

VR training ensures better focus

When wearing a VR headset and being inside a simulation people are significantly less distracted. This is another major advantage of this technology compared to the old ways of conducting soft skills training. And the reason why it will soon be indispensable. Considering today an average person is more likely to be distracted and feel overwhelmed by a training course than ever before (our attention span has shrunk over the last couple decades), we need a solution like VR to help learners to focus and properly absorb the knowledge. According to this Deloitte study, VR is already actively used, and delivers impressive results in various fields: from courses on learning to react in physically dangerous scenarios to improving front-desk staff’s ability to resolve problems.