image of two people wearing rabbit and horse masks

Virtual Reality or Virtual Optimism

NKD is always on the lookout for refreshing learning & development tools, so we explored virtual reality as tool for improving employee engagement.

NKD… a place of connectivity, care and creation. All in the aid of inspiring confidence in employees, employers and customers. We’re always on the lookout for refreshing learning and development approaches to help us help you enhance brand engagement and innovation amongst your people. This is where you picture us in elaborate Willy Wonker-esque thinking hats! About two months ago an exciting idea sprung out of one of the hats and we plunged into the world of virtual reality (VR), collaborating with the very chic Neutral Digital ( to create an augmented 360 degree world for employees to develop and well… live the engagement experience.

Our demo app featured a series of timed, practical questions to implement the learning crafted by the VR scenarios. We had a lot of fun putting the scenes together, playing around (and working, obviously) with the impressive 360 degree camera kit. And we realised just how powerful first-person perspective is when illustrating critical notions that require learners to be utterly invested and understanding.

After working with VR technology I couldn’t help pondering the effectiveness of technology within employee engagement. Everyone absorbs information differently. Our aim was to find a new way of ensuring the learner could be completely immersed, in a captivating and safe environment, essentially plugging in to key knowledge and values bespoke to their workplace.

Hyperconnectivity means everything is talking: person to person, person to machine and machine to machine.  These interactions are 1:1, 1:many and many:1.

My ever-questioning thought processes couldn’t help but ask whether technology, in a world of hyper-connectivity, is actually wiring us up to be more disconnected from each other, or for the more optimistically inclined, whether technological advancements are purely providing an experience-enhancing solution for the more futuristic of our society.

Whilst trawling the web for insight and further inspiration past my own scepticism, I stumbled across the ad above. It seemed to encompass the very notion of an oxymoronic future, one of tactical progressiveness brought forth by a mesmerising image of our species launching the most innovative and game-changing of human thought into the stratosphere, simultaneously landing so far removed from human interaction itself that we find we have dispersed ourselves out of existence. Maybe I’m reading too much into it (I’ve probably had too much coffee), perhaps an ad is just an ad, and a cigarette is just a cigarette.

Regardless of your stance, technology has buzzed, bleeped and whizzed its way into our everyday functionalities and it’s not going anywhere soon. Mike Shaw discusses digital disruption in the business marketplace and explains that it can ‘breathe new life into business processes, products and employees. It can also bring flourishing enterprises to their knees overnight. Done well, digitization improves customer experience, creates more useful products, and results in tighter and more efficient operations.’ So where is technology’s place in the learning and development industry? From engagement stats it seems without the aid of technology, we’re all feeling a little disconnected from work and each other. According to the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), net job satisfaction has dropped significantly from over 48% since autumn 2015 to around 40% in 2016 – ‘its lowest level for over two years.’

When employees were asked whether they were willing to work harder than they had been, in order to help their organisation succeed, the CIPD noted a score of around only 40% being likely to do so.

Me: knock-knock

Business marketplace: who’s there?

Me: no one

Business marketplace: …what?

Me: Everyone is disengaged, why would anyone stick around?!

Okay, so not everyone, but around 60% of employees are feeling apathetic towards their business succeeding or failing – that’s alarming! This is where advancements in software such as virtual reality can be truly beneficial to the learning and progression of companies and their employees. As Shaw noted, for digitisation to effectively implement smoother operations, it has to be done well. Absorbing information is one step, understanding and utilising what you have learnt is the next crucial step. At NKD we craft programmes that unleash the power of people-fuelled brands. Technology helps us to reach just that little bit further to access untapped potential.

Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person.

Our senses take us through life; feeling, tasting, smelling, hearing and seeing our way through experiences. In order to wholly invoke an authentic line of thought, you need to spark a connection with at least one of these senses. One of the most engaging senses is sight. A virtual reality app offers experiential visual stimulus. Such immersive stimuli incites memorable thought, forming connections to what is being learnt, how you felt at the time and why you reacted the way you did. The best part about the experience is that it can be re-run again and again with new scenarios and questions applicable to the brand’s focus. As reported by the CIPD ‘the score for senior managers’ consultation with employees about important decisions remains stable and very low [below 27%]’. The data from the virtual simulations can be exported and used to help better shape the conversations managers are having with their employees.

Not everyone may be ready to indulge the new age of the technological era but there’s certainly evidence to suggest that a change is needed to keep employees engaged. As a species we have conquered lands, mastered art and defied belief, perhaps it’s time to take learning to a whole other world.