The Power and Future of Virtual Reality in the Workplace


We’ve all heard about it, and we may have even used it, but many of us aren’t able to conceptualize the uses for virtual reality (“VR”) outside the entertainment and leisure industries (for example, video games). Only recently, VR has begun infiltrating the business and corporate world and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, research concludes that by 2021, the business industry will surpass the leisure market as VR’s main use.[1]

Although Augmented Reality (“AR”), a similar technology, has become popular recently, it is important to distinguish it from VR. AR inserts digital images and objects on to a real-time picture or video (which is done in the internationally popular Pokemon Go video game).[2] VR, on the other hand, is the exact opposite; instead of imposing digital objects on to a real-life picture, VR imposes real people into a virtual world.[3] It’s this unique opportunity to transport people into a malleable universe that makes VR so appealing to the business world.

Besides the video game industry, VR has been incorporated and proven successful in the medical world.[4] It has given physicians and surgeons the ability to practice life-saving surgeries, as well as review and perfect their work, before even touching a patient.[5]

In the business world, VR has had great success in employee training. Wal-Mart has recently incorporated VR into its employee training regimen.[6] There are certain scenarios that are difficult to reenact for training purposes, such as large aisle spills or the “Black Friday Rush,” but are easily recreated in a VR simulator.[7] Accordingly, employers and managers can monitor what the employee is looking at and can consequently provide a more guided and narrowly tailored critique.[8] In addition, Wal-Mart has used VR to train employees to spot problems “like a missing price on the broccoli or a worker who forgets to ask how thick a customer wants the turkey sliced.”[9] VR will therefore contribute to more prepared, efficient, and competent employees.

Similarly, VR has also been implemented for problem spotting in the construction industry.[10] It tests workers’ abilities to quickly and efficiently spot flaws at construction sites. Furthermore, it gives workers an opportunity to practice using heavy machinery without the physical and financial risks of actually using one.[11]

The potential for VR extends well beyond the training of employees. The National Football League has contracted with the same VR provider as Wal-Mart to create simulators that would prepare General Managers in their interviewing and recruiting of potential players.[12] Furthermore, business travel where executives and managers need to travel across the country or world to meet clients may become an ancient practice when VR technology becomes more advanced. Although phone and video conferences are widely used today, there is much room for improvement: multiple people aren’t able to speak at the same time, and delays in video clarity remove facial expressions, which have the ability to be more telling than the spoken words themselves. In the VR world, executives and employees can have life-like conversations in a virtual world without ever leaving their office.[13]

Another developing VR function is email enhancement through which workers can send building blueprints or design images with VR guidance that would remove all sorts of confusion that arises when describing abstract concepts.[14] Often, language barriers and complex concepts prevent important information from being communicated, costing valuable time and money. The ability to bring conversations into a virtual world where things can be seen in real time in a first-person way can change the way we communicate in business.

Lastly, as employers begin to emphasize and encourage employees’ physical and mental health, VR has the ability, despite being counterintuitive, to increase human activity. Instead of sitting behind a desk and typing for hours (which may have detrimental physiological consequences) employees can stand up, walk around, and interact as if they were with real people.[15] Although VR is only in an infant stage, we are quickly growing closer to creating a technology that will undoubtedly affect everyone from the cashier to the CEO.

[1] Bernard Marr, The Amazing Ways Companies Use Virtual Reality for Business Success, Forbes (July 31, 2017, 12:28 A.M.),

[2] Gavin Finn, Why Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Will Be Important for Your Business, Entrepreneur (Sep. 12, 2017),

[3] Id.

[4] Betsy Morris, Virtual Reality Finally Catches on –with Businesses, Wall Street J. (June 5, 2017, 8:00 A.M.),

[5] Id.

[6] Adi Robertson, Walmart Is Training Employees with a Black Friday VR Simulator, The Verge (June 1, 2017, 5:17 P.M.),

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Morris, supra note 4.

[10] Id.

[11] See id.

[12] Id.

[13] Amy Osmond Cook, Virtual Reality Is About to Change Your Business, Entrepreneur (Apr. 12, 2017),

[14] See id.

[15] Id.


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Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law