Virtual reality (VR) has already been seen to be effective in terms of improving work related skills, such as self-efficacy, as well as lessening symptoms of work-related anxiety. All these skills and more can affect the effectiveness of team building, and here at VRE we aim to maximise team building capabilities.
Why is Team Building Important?
Team building exercises are important as they build a stronger unit of employees, which in turn improves productivity, increases employee motivation, collaboration, trust, and respect. Moreover, team building allows for the adaptation of mutual values, agreed behaviours, acquisition of knowledge, and leadership skills in order to build a dynamic team where both managers and employees are able to grow. According to research, team building is rapidly becoming one of the most critical developmental activities being carried out by business. More specifically, companies have a great need for team building programmes in order to cope with the frequent changes in technology and the market (Jacobs & Everett, 1988). If team members needs are not satisfied, this could lead to dysfunctional teams, which would not be beneficial for the business as a whole. This would cause decreased employee satisfaction, welfare, and happiness, thus reduced productivity for the company.
How do Companies Commonly Provide Team Building Exercises?
Common team building activities have a negative, mundane stereotype and are normally implemented in person with co-workers. These activities can include: Two truths and a lie, telling everyone your name, and telling people about your life and general self. Even though these classic tasks can be beneficial, they are not without their limitations. One of these is which these tasks are thought to cause inconsistent engagement between co workers as the quieter co-workers may take a step back from being fully engaged as well as others no taking the task seriously. Furthering this, due to the more serious nature associated with the classic tasks, they may cause employees to feel pressure to perform and feel forced to bond with the team. This can cause negative effects, making the team feel like the employer cares more about the company appearance.
However, due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has dramatically increased from 5.7% pre pandemic (The Home Office Life, 2022) to 36% in January 2022 (Probert, 2022). This means that classic face to face team building exercises were not achievable, leaving to question how and if team building exercises are still used within the workforce, and the detrimental effects for the workforce due to a decrease in these activities.
How has Virtual Reality been able to Implement Team Building Exercises?
In order to address and combat the negative associations with classic team building tasks, VR has been implemented into team building exercises. VR allows for a safe, virtual environment in which employees are able to experiment and collaborate with fellow colleagues. Not only this, but the virtual “video game” immersion of VR disrupts the mundane stereotype associated with team building exercises, which makes the activities more effective and enjoyable. This encourages an almost natural flow of conversation between the workforce and helps to identify whom within that workforce have leadership tendencies. In turn, this allows for employees to establish mutual respect and understanding with one another.
What can be used as Team Building Exercises in Virtual Reality?
A wide range of activities can be used as a team building exercise within virtual reality, which may be impossible or too expensive outside of the virtual world. An example of this would be the use of an escape room. This is easily accessible within VR, encouraging employees to work together as a team in order to problem solve and escape. Without effective communication, teamwork, and respect, the workforce would find it extremely difficult to complete the escape room task. Therefore, this promotes and builds upon these skills necessary, and thus creating a stronger, more productive workforce. This escape room activity may not be achievable outside of the virtual world due to additional costs required for all employees to attend. Furthering this, the safe space of a virtual environment may encourage the quieter, subdued members to “step out of their shell” easier compared to a non-virtual environment. This has been seen to be the case in regard to virtual reality aiding in decreasing levels of anxiety within individuals (Camara & Hicks, 2019; Harris et al., 2002; Robillard et al., 2010), which could otherwise cause difficulties within the team.
How does VRE Incorporate Team Building Tasks?
Due to the rapid changes in workplace environments, with many people working from home, virtual team building activities are more important than ever. VRE provides team building exercises through the use of virtual platforms and activities, which each promote problem solving skills, teamwork skills, communications skills and more. These skills combined help to promote an effective, happy workforce, which will increase employee satisfaction, productivity and overall reputation of the company.
Camara, D. R., & Hicks, R. E. (2019). USING VIRTUAL REALITY TO REDUCE STATE ANXIETY AND STRESS IN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS: AN EXPERIMENT. Journal of Psychology, 2, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.5176/2345-7929_4.2.100
Harris, S. R., Kemmerling, R. L., & North, M. M. (2002). Brief Virtual Reality Therapy for Public Speaking Anxiety. In CYBERPSYCHOLOGY & BEHAVIOR (Vol. 5, Issue 6). www.liebertpub.com
Jacobs, R. C., & Everett, J. G. (1988). THE IMPORTANCE OF TEAM BUILDING IN A HIGH-TECH ENVIRONMENT.
Probert, J. (2022). Homeworking and spending during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Great Britain – Office for National Statistics. https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/homeworkingandspendingduringthecoronaviruscovid19pandemicgreatbritain/april2020tojanuary2022
Robillard, G., Bouchard, S., Dumoulin, S., Guitard, T., & Klinger, É. (2010). Using virtual humans to alleviate social anxiety: Preliminary report from a comparative outcome study. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 154, 57–60. https://doi.org/10.3233/978-1-60750-561-7-57
The Home Office Life. (2022). 📊 Working from home statistics UK [Updated for 2022] — The Home Office Life. https://thehomeofficelife.com/blog/work-from-home-statistics