VR in the workplace puts teamwork and negotiation skills to the test

Founded in November 2020, Oddity VR has designed 12 virtual reality modules to help businesses test and highlight the soft skills and social skills of present and future employees. — AFP Relaxnews

What if we could step into virtual reality to explore our levels of emotional intelligence, test our negotiating skills and evaluate our ability to solve complex problems?

That’s the innovative idea behind Oddity VR, a virtual reality application designed to help businesses identify and highlight their workers’ soft skills.

Scenario #1: You’re in a gymnasium, ready to play a handball match. In front of you, three players are blocking your way to the other team’s goal. The ball is in your hands. You have several choices: go it alone and try to run around the players to score. Or, turn to a teammate on your right and pass them the ball. You can play again several times over, changing strategy as and when you like. You have one minute to score as many goals as possible.

Scenario #2: You’re on the rooftop of a building in downtown New York. Your mission is to convince the three people you are with to jump over the abyss, without falling to the ground. The clock is ticking. You have four objects available to help you: a parachute, a mysterious envelope, a gun and a bar of gold.

These situations have nothing to do with a new video game, but are actually part of a virtual reality program designed to help businesses test the soft skills and social skills of current or prospective employees. It’s a far cry from multiple choice personality tests!

Behind this innovative concept is the Oddity VR startup, founded in November 2020.

“We wanted to promote the fun and simple aspect, adding to that algorithms that can analyse all kinds of behaviour and make observations based on 15 or so soft skills: emotional intelligence, empathy, complex problem-solving, negotiation skills, etc,” explains Denis Deguilhen, president of Oddity VR.

Highlighting the soft skills in everyone

In total, 12 different situations allow businesses to establish a comprehensive profile, whether for a candidate being interviewed or for evaluating the soft skills of employees in the workplace. The first scenario described above, for example, is designed to evaluate someone's ability to play as a team. The second scenario is designed to reveal their leadership style and managerial abilities.

Over all, the VR app aims to identify and develop people’s skills and abilities. Denis Deguilhen emphasises this point in particular: “It’s not about evaluating a person to determine whether or not they are ‘suitable’ for a role or a company. On the contrary, the aim is to bring to light the soft skills of a given individual, highlighting each person’s strengths or areas for improvement, or even both.”

If the founders of Oddity VR have chosen to focus on soft skills, it’s because they firmly believe that these represent the future of work.

“Today, everyone agrees that a technical skill becomes obsolete after three years. You therefore need people who are capable of affirming their soft skills. Our objective is to show to businesses the huge human potential that lies in each employee, but which remains all too often under-identified and underused,” explains the president of the startup.

In the same spirit of adapting to changing ways of working, the firm has also developed a 10-minute module on remote working. “The aim is to ensure that an employee has the ability to concentrate and cope with stress when working from home. We therefore imagined a scenario in which the person stepping into the virtual reality world finds themselves in an apartment, on a video call with their colleagues and/or their manager. But this meeting will be disrupted: by a crying baby, a barking dog, a delivery person ringing the doorbell, etc,” describes Denis Deguilhen. – AFP Relaxnews

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