PostNord began piloting the use of virtual reality (VR) training at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when in-person instruction for their essential workers became logistically difficult. However, the program has become so popular that many of the 30,000 posties working for the state-owned firm’s have been predominantly trained via VR. Modules in the training cover topics from operating vehicles to identifying and sorting packages by size and weight.
PostNord spokesperson Patrik Ågren told Express.co.uk: “As Head of Leadership and Competence Development at PostNord, I’m always looking for ways to improve and streamline how we work and train our team.
“Although we do still use some traditional methods, it’s great to be able to quickly and effectively teach staff things like how to sort packages without gathering them all together in a physical location. It makes things a lot easier and more flexible.
“We are in the process of expanding our VR training with our new Oncoming and Warehousing service, which will commence training of 11,000 of our employees within the next three months.
“This is part of a greater project that will help train all customer-facing processes over the next 12 months.”
One of the many employees who have been through the VR training experience is Torbjörn Helmersson, the head of Postnord’s business center in the town of Visby, on the Swedish island of Gotland.
Mr Helmersson said: “VR is a way to perfect train in a safe environment so you are then capable of a task like leadership in real life so when you have that type of conversation with your staff, it works better. ”
According to PostNord’s internal assessments, VR-based learning has already proven to be a whopping 80 percent more effective than the e-learning staff previously used in training.
The simulated schooling was developed by Stockholm-based immersive technology startup Warpin Media, which has also developed VR and augmented reality (AR) solutions for such companies as Disney, Ferrari and H&M.
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Warpin’s co-founder and CEO Emma Ridderstad said: “VR and immersive technology has not traditionally been associated with the workplace, but has begun to transform the way businesses train their employees.
“PostNord has over 25,000 employees, and many of them were trained through our VR service, in activities such as operating vehicles like forklift trucks, sorting packages and learning safety procedures.
“Our work with PostNord began as a way to safely train frontline employees during the pandemic — but we have all seen that this technology is the future of training, regardless of COVID.”
VR-based training not only better replicates the real-life employee experience, she explained, but can also cut down on the environmental impact of travel to dedicated teaching centres, is more accessible for workers with disabilities and cuts down on the costs involved in setting up and running training days.
Ms Ridderstad added: “Studies show that VR training can reduce work-related injuries by up to 45 percent, make staff 3.75 times more emotionally connected to content, and allow businesses to save up to 80 percent on training costs.”
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Mr Ågren added: “Swedish businesses are open-minded about incorporating new technologies into the workplace, and it’s why we are often world-leading in our corporate innovation and education.
“Very few public service organizations elsewhere have implemented VR in everyday activities like staff training, but of late in Sweden its popularity has begun to grow.”
However, PostNord is not the only national postal service to explore the use of VR training — Royal Mail has been using such tech since 2017.
Unlike PostNord’s broad training, though, the simulations used in the UK have a very specific focus, safely simulating the threat of a dog attack in a “photo-realistic delivery environment” to allow postal workers to learn the best way to react in such situations .