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Soft Skills in VR: A Conversation with #Think.Start VR about Innovative Trainings

Michael Stock Interview

VR creates a win-win situation: the intensive training not only improves individual skills and the overall climate in the company, but also enables employees to perform more confidently and confidently in the real world. In our conversation with Michael Stock from #Think.Start VR, we learn more about the advantages of Virtual Reality for soft skills training.

From improving employee engagement to navigating difficult conversations in the workplace, social skills training through virtual reality opens up a new learning dimension. This enables a deeper understanding of interpersonal dynamics, promotes empathic communication, and trains conflict resolution skills in a very realistic way.

VR training also provides a protected virtual space to practice difficult conversations. Customized scenarios allow employees to act out challenging situations in a controlled environment, increasing self-confidence.

We sat down with Michael Stock, Managing Director at #Think.Start VR, to learn more about the fascinating potential of this innovative technology for social skills training. The expert in sustainable learning formats in virtual reality sheds light on the subject and shares his unique view on the future of learning.

Hello Michael, what do you do at Think Start?

We create sustainable training and learning formats in and with virtual reality. In addition to the development of didactic concepts with the integration of virtual reality, our primary focus is the transfer of knowledge. Together with TÜV Rheinland, we have developed one of the first certified training courses in this field with the Metaverse Trainer qualification.

We provide a comprehensive overview of the possible uses of VR in HR development. With our expertise as trainers, learning facilitators, and lecturers, we see ourselves as an interface between IT companies and users.

Can you give a few examples of how organizations are already using VR?

With pleasure, as we have already been able to accompany a number of companies in the meantime. The examples are very diverse in the meantime. Starting with training formats that are often implemented in the virtual environment for safety reasons, such as a visit to a transformer station, fire extinguishing scenarios, or fire alarm training.

We focus mainly on the development of soft skills. For example, the simulation of teamwork in virtual environments, where employees can improve their cooperation and communication, or communication and sales training are frequent training scenarios.

However, we also accompany workshop formats such as design thinking and product training, where employees can interact with products, which deepens their understanding. VR is also used for management training to simulate challenging situations in employee meetings and to train decision-making behavior.

Does VR really change HR?

This is something I would like to see because we all know boring training and school formats. Virtual Reality has the potential to change HR in a revolutionary way. By placing employees in immersive, realistic environments, VR enables a whole new way of learning and personal development.

How can VR help with difficult conversations in the workplace?

"Let's practice what we have learned in a role play". With this sentence at the latest, I have lost training participants. VR can play a transformative role in difficult conversations by expanding the scope of practice.

Through tailor-made scenarios, employees can practice difficult conversations in a protected virtual space and increase their confidence. This promotes better understanding, empathic communication, and conflict resolution skills, which ultimately leads to more confidence even in difficult conversations.

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Can VR play a role in improving employee engagement and morale?

I haven't thought about this at all. I think that the use of VR pays off in several areas by making learning and development interactive and fun.

The possibility to move in immersive learning scenarios, and to come together collaboratively in virtual worlds, increases motivation and knowledge acquisition. In addition, employees feel valued when companies invest in innovative technologies to support their professional development.

What are the most important steps for getting started with VR soft skills training to make the process easier for everyone?

Besides courage and curiosity in using this medium, I think the following points are important.

  1. Take away the fear of technology and create functionality: Nothing is worse than confronting people with technology that does not work. To do this, first create a framework in which the participants can engage with the medium without difficulty. Only when the technology works and the participants can handle it, can I work on the content.
  2. Make sense for the use of the medium: Here we recommend a needs analysis in advance. Identify the specific soft skills that need to be promoted and what challenges the employees will have to overcome with them.
  3. Create interactive and varied experiences: If I actively involve learners and give them the opportunity to practice in a safe space, I increase the acceptance of the medium.
  4. Start small and actively involve staff in developing opportunities for use and implement feedback mechanisms in the VR experience to track learning progress and allow for continuous improvement

Many thanks for the interesting conversation,  Michael!

About Michael StockMichael Stock-modified

Michael Stock is passionate about technology and everything that comes with the digital age. However, he also loves to be able to decide when to use these possibilities. Outside of Virtual Reality, he is an adventure educator, freedive instructor, or simply out in nature without technology. Until 4 years ago, he traveled about 60,000 km a year in face-to-face training and courses. At some point, he and his business partner Sebastian Müller-Neff started looking for an alternative. During a hike in the German Black Forest, they had the idea to look into the future and came up with Virtual Reality. The pandemic validated their decision. Suddenly there were training and teaching formats conducted entirely online. #Think.Start VR is taking these into the virtual world.

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