Working all day in VR does not increase productivity

A new study from Germany has found that working in virtual reality does not increase productivity, comfort, or wellbeing, but does say the report will help identify opportunities for improving the experience of working in VR in the future.

The project was heded up by Dr Jens Grubert, a specialist in human-computer interaction at Coburg University, Germany.

It involved 16 people who had to work for five days, eight hours a week (with 45 mins lunch break), in VR. The participants used Meta Quest 2 VR headsets combined with a Logitech K830 keyboard and Chrome Remote Desktop. The equipment was chosen specifically to create a realistic scenario of what users would be using in today's world.

Participants were also asked specific VR-related questions ('do you feel sick?' or 'are your eyes starting to hurt?'). The research team also monitored the worker's heartbeats and typing speed.

The published paper, entitled 'Quantifying the Effects of Working in VR for One Week' found "concerning levels
of simulator sickness, below average usability ratings and two participants dropped out on the first day using VR, due to migraine, nausea and anxiety."

The study found that, as expected, VR results in significantly worse ratings across most measures. Each test subject scored their VR working experience versus working in a physical environment, many felt their task load had increased, on average by 35%. Frustration was by 42%, the 'negative affect' was up 11%, and anxiety rose by 19%. Mental wellbeing decreased by 20%., eye strain rose 48%, and VR ranked 36% lower on usability. Participants self-rated workflow went down by 14% and their perceived productivity dropped by 16%.

"Nevertheless, there is some indication that participants gradually overcame negative first impressions and initial discomfort. Overall, this study helps lay the groundwork for subsequent research, by clearly highlighting current shortcomings and
identifying opportunities for improving the experience of working in VR."

 

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