Working in Virtual Reality: Few Disruptions, But No Productivity Improvement, Study Finds

Large technology companies have great promise around virtual reality (VR) and the metaverse. What other things are changing the future of the workplace. But the concept can be difficult to get business users to if it doesn’t bring a lot of productivity benefits.

According to a new study by Drs. Jens Grubert, a human-computer interaction specialist at the University of Coburg, Germany, still has work to do before the systems are ready for most workers. “The study found that VR led to worse ratings for most cases,” the doctor and his research team said in the non-peer-reviewed paper “Calculating the Effects of Working on VR for a Week. “

The study consisted of observing 16 people during a work week. Half of the participants used the VR headset at work for eight hours per day for five days, and the other half were in the classic configuration. Each participant then moved to a different configuration. The purpose is to quantify the effects of switching in a desktop work environment with a typical VR setup.

The Big Question of Helmet Productivity

For the desktop portion of the experiment, participants had a browser and Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to the computer. When it comes to VR, the researchers chose the Oculus Quest 2 because it can track the user’s hands. The keyboard used in the experiment was a Logitech K830 with an integrated touchpad.

All experimental subjects were university employees.

Desktop users report higher perceived productivity than headset users. VR users also got a higher failure score than desktop users. The researchers also measured presence, “negative impact”, well-being, anxiety, visual fatigue and heart rate. Desktop users performed better on all measures except heart rate, where there was no significant difference. Two participants fell on the first day of VR due to migraine, nausea, and anxiety.

Some VR users report positive experiences

The study also looked at typing speed. This reveals that desktop users are much faster. Participants reported disliking the weight of the helmet screen and the pressure on their face, as well as the time wasted removing the helmet to drink or eat.

Some VR users report positive experiences, though. Four of the VR participants enjoyed the experience in a professional setting. Others enjoy “stopping and looking at an empty space.”

Nine participants said they liked that the isolation of the VR condition allowed them to focus more on the tasks at hand, because they were not distracted, especially by the combination of music on their headphones. However, it can also have drawbacks, and three participants said VR was “a bit scary” because they couldn’t see the presence of other people in the real world.

Only three of the 16 participants said they liked VR

Only three of the 16 participants said they liked VR. But all participants believed that they could imagine using VR for future work, if certain conditions were met. For example: there are lighter screens with higher resolution and may have multiple screens. In addition, all participants mentioned that they could imagine themselves using VR for a limited time.

One week after the experiment, participants were also asked if they had observed any other effects. One participant mentioned that sometimes on the weekends he felt like he was still wearing the headset, while two others said they were “amazed at how detailed the real world is” after the helmet was removed.

But in the end, the researchers concluded that metaverse technology was not ready for widespread use to work throughout the week in a professional setting. The researchers noted that given the limitations of today’s technology and the fact that VR provides a virtual approximation of the real environment, they didn’t expect VR to be more than usual work – which is also confirmed by the results. .

“Nevertheless, there is some evidence that participants are gradually overcoming negative first impressions and initial discomfort. Overall, this study will help lay the groundwork for further research, highlighting current gaps and identifying opportunities to improve the VR work experience, ”they said.


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