The challenge

A medium-sized pizza chain that operates approximately 15 restaurants across southwest Ohio wanted to revamp their training process on how to train new employees to make pizzas. The training process they sought to replace consisted of shift leaders training new employees within their first few days on the job during the restaurant’s hours of operation. 

There were several unwelcome consequences of this process that they wanted to eliminate. Each shift leader had their own process of making a pizza that could vary from one day to the next. A shift leader does not have an opportunity to work with another shift leader to compare notes or observe each other’s process, so no two employees were getting the same instruction across the chain, translating into customers receiving a varying degree of quality in their orders. Additionally, it was a burden on the entire shift to have both the shift leader and the new employee pulled away from making customer’s orders, increasing the time it took for the remaining staff to complete orders around the training in progress. The chain wanted the solution to take into consideration that the trainees will be using sharp and hot equipment, possibly for the first time, as they are trying to learn which is not an ideal situation.

The Solution

The pizza chain partnered with Designing Digitally, Inc. (DDINC) to replace their training process with a Virtual Reality Simulation to provide the processes accurately to the employees.  An immersive virtual reality (VR) kitchen that is accessed via the web and Virtual Reality Headsetsthat provides trainees with hands-on experience of pizza-making without having to worry about safety issues. This Virtual Reality simulation teleports trainees into a full pizza kitchen, equipped with all of the nuances of a real kitchen that make the environment feel real in both sight and sound. The Virutal Reality simulation PizzaMaker utilizes simplified game mechanics to get those unfamiliar with VR up and running quickly as well as for instructions on using the Oculus Go controller that could be simply ignored by anyone more familiar with the technology.

Trainees receive an order, such as a large pepperoni pizza, and step-by-step instructions in the form of a ‘to-do list’ poster displayed in the kitchen that outlines the steps needed to complete an order in a Virtual Reality metaverse. As the trainee completes a VR step, such as placing the sauce on the dough, they hear a ding as a checkmark appears on the to-do list, indicating they were successful with that step and should move to the next step, which in this example would be adding cheese. All of the ingredients, equipment, and tools the trainee might need are visible and within reach to reduce way-finding-related distractions, allowing them to focus on the process within the Virtual Reality simulation. Once the learner has mastered the steps to make a pizza with the step-by-step to-do list visible, the training uses a scaffolding approach by removing the to-do list and allowing the trainee to test their recollection of the steps in this virtual reality simulation.

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