Is the VR office a post-pandemic reality?

Avatars, virtual auditoriums, and smart glasses ... the financial sector is bringing the office vibe to employees' homes with the help of Virtual Reality.

90% of employees at some of the world's biggest financial firms are now working from home, a trend that’s likely to endure.

Now companies such as Fidelity International, UBS, and Citibank are embracing VR to resuscitate team spirit and combat Zoom fatigue.

Developments being touted in the space include making a person's appearance more work-appropriate, such as hiding gym clothes, and translating real-life gestures into the virtual space, like handshakes.

The interest in VR has given rise to a crop of start-ups like Gather, which provides virtual versions of physical spaces, from weddings and parties to conferences and meetings.

Philip Wang is the co-founder and CEO:

"People have noticed that it's actually pretty fluid to kind of work remotely, but what's really missing is the culture aspect, like it feels isolating because the only time you're really interacting with your co-workers is just during these meetings. And so really, what having a Gather office brings back is all the kinds of interactions and and cohesion that you would feel being in a physical space together."

Going forward, VR could help firms cut down on travel, and thus lower their carbon footprint.

It’s also hoped to help with training.

Virtual learning courses are shown to be more effective, and much cheaper, than physical classrooms.

According to a report by PriceWaterHouseCooopers, immersive technology could save banks as much as $1.5 trillion by 2030, with nearly $500 billion coming from VR alone.