Virtual reality is no longer limited to the gaming industry. It has found its application in several other verticals including manufacturing, construction, social networking and education and training.
There has been a significant increase in ‘remote work’ in the last few years. Several companies have globalized workforces and spend over $1 trillion each year on their travel.
Embracing Virtual Reality in Project Management
Employees in virtual teams typically face communication challenges due to ‘no proximity’. Virtual reality i.e. videoconferencing, instant messaging and blogs-can help solve this problem and allow them to exchange ideas, discuss obstacles and monitor progress in a highly interactive virtual space. In other words, a ‘virtual office’ is the answer to employee isolation since the latest company news, projects etc. can be posted on a platform that is accessible to workers all over the world.
Majority of the project managers are accustomed to using the conventional management approach. This approach is highly directive. When using virtual reality, project managers need to consider the bigger picture rather than focusing on micromanaging. Further, they must also learn enough about the technology being used to facilitate virtual communication among team members. It is important to use richer media than e-mail when workers in a virtual team have not had a single face-to-face interaction. However, with increasing trust between team members, it is advisable for the project manager to avoid very close supervision.
Besides basic communication, virtual reality can also play an important role in specific project management functions.
Virtual Reality in Scheduling
A project schedule basically refers to a list of time-bound elements with pre-determined start and end dates. These time-bound elements are usually estimated by taking into consideration the budget, resources and duration of the project and are often inter-dependent.
Here’s an example of virtual reality can improve the scheduling function for a construction firm’s project. A project manager and his/her team can visualize the progress of the construction by utilizing a CPM (Critical Path Method) schedule through a graphical representation. The execution of the architectural design can be done with the help of a CAD (computer-aided drafting) program.
The GIS system can be used effectively for communicating the information related to progress and schedule to all teams and stakeholders in a project. 4D tools are also being developed for building 4D models in architectural projects since they facilitate a detailed visualization process.
How Teleconferencing Replaced a Traditional Meeting
A recent study compared virtual-reality driven project management with traditional project management. The results revealed that teleconferences that involved online exchange of ideas, concepts and project schedule in real time, proved to be the most effective. These sessions were usually held thrice a week and allowed teams to quickly reject and generate ideas. According to the project manager handling this virtual team, the real-time meetings held via teleconferencing were as productive as live sessions. They were very different from traditional meetings and facilitated quicker and more accurate decision making.