IKEA is using virtual reality for onboarding and training

IKEA VR

A qualified guess is that everybody knows IKEA, and with good reason. IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer and holds 415 stores placed throughout 49 countries.

What most people associate IKEA with is their successful and widely loved cost-friendly furniture concept, but do not underestimate what makes the wheels spin and what also anchors the success of IKEA. IKEA has approximately 160.000 employees and they all play a huge part of the success, reinventing and stabilizing the business.

The retail industry, though, has a generally high employee turnover, which can be a challenge. IKEA is no exception. IKEA must be on top of their game to ensure efficient and competence-boosting onboarding and offer proper training and education to employees, or co-workers as they say at IKEA. In addition, IKEA wants to ensure that talented workers are introduced to the many opportunities IKEA has to offer within their large organization.

But how can IKEA use Virtual Reality for onboarding and training their co-workers, and should they even?

The opportunity recognized by IKEA

As IKEA reached out to Virsabi we started to explore how, when and why IKEA could benefit from integrating VR in their Talent development approach. At an ideation workshop several training scenarios where discussed and held up against what the different technologies as Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality have to offer to enhance training in ways more traditional methods can’t.

IKEA saw a great opportunity for releasing a VR-experience at their Talent Focus Week in March 2018, an annual event executed across their many stores putting attention towards HR subjects. Even though the VR-experience aimed at educating co-workers during the Talent Focus Week, it is also meant to be used for introducing what it’s like to work at IKEA when onboarding new IKEA co-workers.

The VR-experience was delivered in 18 different languages. It met cultural differences and different learning methods and at the same time, it sought to unite the co-workers to feel as a part of a big global family that is keen on helping each co-worker in reaching the next level.

From a business perspective IKEA also wished to use VR technologies to develop their co-worker’s capabilities in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Målet med VR-oplevelsen

Et af de scenarier, som IKEA elskede, var at uddanne deres kolleger ved at skabe kendskab til forskellige jobfunktioner, og hvordan ledere bliver inspireret af IKEAs nøgleværdier i deres job.

Målet med VR-oplevelsen var at gøre det muligt for medarbejdere at opleve et af de mange IKEA-miljøer i IKEAs værdikæde og opleve en lederrolle. Et aspekt af at være en god leder i IKEA er, hvordan du agere som leder inspireret af IKEAs 8 nøgleværdier. Eksempler på nogle af nøgleværdierne er; “Sammenhed” & “Enkelhed”.

Rundt om rigtige IKEA-miljøer i 360-graders video

For at give en autentisk præsentation af, hvordan det er at være leder i IKEA, tog vi til IKEA i Taastrup, Danmark og optog 360-graders videoer af ledere i det miljø, de var ansvarlige for. I VR-oplevelsen kan medarbejderne gå ind i to miljøer “Salg”, hvor du møder Sidsel og “Logistik”, hvor du møder Rafael i 360-graders videoer. I filmene forklarer Sidsel og Rafael, hvordan og hvorfor de blev ledere, og hvordan de bruger IKEAs nøgleværdier.

IKEA Talent focus week

Interacting gamification of the IKEA values

To support the education of what the IKEA values are, we also built an environment in the VR-experience where the co-worker can interact with the IKEA key values. The interaction has been formed as a game, and at the same time we have built in a layer that makes the coworker reflect on their own practice and job function in regards to the IKEA key values.

Integrated sales training

Another interactive element we made for the VR-experience was implementing an educational “iPad-teacher” in the sales environment. The virtual iPad communicates about how co-workers use the IKEA I-sell application, which is an important tool for the co-workers in Sales.

Sneak peek of the experience

Below you can see an early version of the VR-experience. It was produced to create awareness about the VR-project internally among the stakeholders at IKEA.

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Go behind the scenes and hear the IKEA team talk about the WHY

IKEA had experiences using virtual and augmented reality technologies for sales and marketing with the app IKEA Places, though IKEA hadn’t used VR internally to educate before. So, IKEA wanted to be very transparent about what VR is and why IKEA was planning on using it for education. They therefor choose to make a “Behind the Scenes” video for the many co-workers to see before the Talent Focus Week.

In the video you will meet many of the IKEA people who has been a part of the VR-project. They are talking about <i>why</i> they are interested in exploring the potential of VR when it comes to educating and inspiring their coworkers. In the video the technology VR also gets briefly explained to reduce the “fear of the unknown” as VR still is a fairly new technology for many people.

Below you can watch a “Behind the Scenes” video IKEA had made to promote the VR-experience internally.

IKEA's take on our collaboration and production

Paolo Formenti,  Employer Brand Digital Communication Manager, was the Employer Brand Lead on the VR-project. Paolo was a keystone in the development process and has been closely following the creation of the VR-experience. Looking back on our first VR-journey he has the following comment on the corporation with Virsabi and the value the VR-experience has had for IKEA:

Vi var på udkig efter at lave en aktivitet, der ville vise IKEA som en moderne futuristisk arbejdsgiver, så hvilken bedre teknologi at bruge end VR! Vi var ikke interesserede i, at dette skulle udgå som en ren gimmick, så vi var nødt til at henvende os til en partner med erfaring i at bruge teknologien på en værdidrevet måde. Vi kontaktede Virsabi efter at have set deres arbejde med andre globale brands og deres fokus på læring og udvikling ved hjælp af VR.

Vores første skridt var at uddanne og informere vores HR-ledelse og sælge værdien i ​​VR. Vi planlagde et "showcase" møde. Virsabi bragte alt deres "legetøj" med dem til vores kontorer, med stor entusiasme og viden. Et møde af denne type hjalp os med at starte en idéproces med at holde de rigtige beslutningstagere ombord på projektet og arbejde med fokus på enkelhed og sammenhold.

Det var fantastisk at samarbejde med en partner, der arbejdede sammen med os i sådan en ærlig og praktisk måde. Virsabi investerede en masse tid og energi i at komme ind under huden på, hvordan det er at arbejde i IKEA, udforske forskellige IKEA-lokationer og få en ægte fornemmelse af de forskellige IKEA-kollegers funktioner og miljøer.

Virsabi understøttet os ved lanceringen af ​​Talent Focus Week eventet ved at hjælpe os med at "sælge" oplevelsen til kollegerne samt fange deres entusiasme og feedback.

Vi ser bestemt frem til at arbejde sammen med Virsabi igen om at levere yderligere værdi ved at bruge VR, fra kendskab til udvikling.

Executing the VR-experience

As Paolo Formenti mentioned in his comment above, Virsabi joined the Talent Focus Week at the main office in Hubbult, Sweden, for the release of the VR-experience. As the VR-experience is designed to be handled without an instructor or trainer we mainly observed the reactions of the coworkers trying out the experience. The reactions all pointed in one direction and that was excitement!

IKEA VR
IKEA VR
IKEA VR

Top 3 best rated experience in 2018

The pictures give an indication of the atmosphere and reactions. With a small sneak peek into the internal evaluation of the Talent Focus Week showed that the VR-experience was in top 3 of best rated experiences at the Talent Focus Week, which makes a little proud smile appear on the virsabian faces?

We are ambitious at Virsabi!

At Virsabi we have big ambitions for our projects and our collaboration with our customers. Based on our first project for the IKEA Talent Focus week we are now in an evaluation process with IKEA to collect learning on both the process and the product. We very much value this initiative as the learnings collected shall serve as stepping stones for producing even better VR-process and products for our customers.

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Virsabi er et virtual reality studio. En teknologisk enhed af strateger, udviklere og kreative, og et af de første Virtual Reality-dedikerede firmaer, der tilbyder virksomhedskonsultationer, rådgivningsarbejde og teknisk udvikling til anvendelse af Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality og Mixed Reality.

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