Quantifying the Effects of Working in VR for One Week

Abstract

Virtual Reality (VR) provides new possibilities for modern knowledge work. However, the potential advantages of virtual work environments can only be used if it is feasible to work in them for an extended period of time. Until now, there are limited studies of long-term effects when working in VR. This paper addresses the need for understanding such long-term effects. Specifically, we report on a comparative study (n=16), in which participants were working in VR for an entire week -- for five days, eight hours each day -- as well as in a baseline physical desktop environment. This study aims to quantify the effects of exchanging a desktop-based work environment with a VR-based environment. Hence, during this study, we do not present the participants with the best possible VR system but rather a setup delivering a comparable experience to working in the physical desktop environment.
The study reveals that, as expected, VR results in significantly worse ratings across most measures. Among other results, we 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. 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.

Media

Longterm Setup
a) Participant working in a physical desktop setup in one of three physical locations (Germany), including a curved display and a keyboard with integrated touchpad. b) articipant working in the VR setup wearing an Oculus Quest 2, using the same keyboard but a virtual curved display. c) Participant’s view within VR where the streamed content from a remote machine is visible. d) Participant’s view of the keyboard and hands within VR.

Press reports

Publication

Verena Biener, Snehanjali Kalamkar, Negar Nouri, Eyal Ofek, Michel Pahud, John J. Dudley, Jinghui Hu, Per Ola Kristensson, Maheshya Weerasinghe, Klen Čopič Pucihar, Matjaž Kljun, Stephan Streuber & Jens Grubert. PQuantifying the Effects of Working in VR for One Week. arXiv e-prints (2022): arXiv-2206. arxiv preprint