VirKA - physical, cognitive and social effects of virtual knowledge work in Virtual Reality (VR) environment
Research Project, 2022
The purpose of the study is to explore the physical, cognitive and social effects of office work supported by VR technology, as a physically different alternative to working with "office tasks" remotely with a laptop/computer at a desk. The project is short (2 years) and aims to quickly contribute knowledge, advice and experience regarding the use of VR equipment for knowledge work.
Working in a virtual office environment requires access to VR equipment and a physical space allowing movements around the body with hand controls, in a standing or sitting position. At the same time, the virtual world can offer an almost unlimited surface for visual information. This could allow for a different, more flexible movement schedule than sitting for long periods physically "locked" to a screen and a keyboard, and could contribute to greater physical variety and more concentration. Some studies have demonstrated the feasibility of hand and finger movements for the manipulation of objects in virtual environments, enabling the execution of tasks both with and without a physical keyboard and mouse. On the other hand, using VR equipment involves physical wearing (of the VR headset) and new hand movements; their ergonomic implications are not yet thoroughly researched for office work. Another aspect of real office work is the experience of shared spaces and "crowding" (ie many people in the same space), and whether this experience looks different in virtual environments.
The overall aim of the study is to create recommendations that consider VR-supported office work from an ergonomic system perspective, focusing on the mutual effects of: 1) the impact of technology on human behavior, performance and well-being; 2) the influence of people's behavior patterns and decisions about how the technology is used/avoided; and 3) how demands and limitations from the work task and social expectations affect choices and behaviors around the use of technology.
The goal is to contribute knowledge that can guide employers who are considering implementing a VR-supported work environment, so that they can proactively assess the pros and cons in relation to their intended operations, as well as predict effects on physical, cognitive and social well-being alongside productivity, collaboration and communication.
Cecilia Berlin (contact)
Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design & Human Factors
Maral Babapour Chafi
Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors
Institute of Stress Medicine
Project ID: 210043
Funding Chalmers participation during 2022–2024
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