Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and the New World of Work

Imagine the first day of your next job. You’ve never visited the office before or sat down with anyone from the company in person. In fact, the first person you meet face-to-face is the security guard, who hands you your building pass at reception.

However, even though you’ve never been here before, you make your way to your desk, and see familiar faces and spaces. You wave hello to your manager, sit down at your desk, and begin work like you’ve been with the company for years.

“Through VR, you can place different candidates in very specific working environments and assess them based on their actual behavior in that given environment”

Your immediate familiarity with your working environment is thanks to the latest in immersive technology. Although you’ve never set foot in your new workplace before, you’ve already interviewed, participated in training exercises, and got to know your new team – with the help of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI).

These two technologies are not only better preparing people to begin their job, they’re also helping business leaders find top talent to fill critical roles.

“We are in an age of massive disruption on the hiring front,” says Ernie Paskey, Partner and North American Practice Leader, Assessment, Aon. “All sorts of technologies – digital interviewing, predictive analytics, gamification, for example – have emerged or are emerging.” And they are drastically changing the world of work.

With respondents to Aon’s 2017 Global Risk Management Survey citing “disruptive technologies/innovation” such as VR and AI as an “emerging risk” – one predicted to be in the top 10 list of risks in just a few years – it becomes clearer that forward-thinking about how best to use these technologies is a growing priority for business leaders.

Virtual Reality Environments

In the last few years, VR – along with its assorted headsets, haptic gloves and motion controllers – has moved from the labs of Silicon Valley into the hands of consumers and businesses.

VR’s ability to create fully immersive environments has its most obvious applications in gaming and entertainment. But, increasingly, virtual reality is also being used in the workplace.

Engineers have started using VR to review schematics and models in 3D. Real estate agents are using it to show prospective buyers around properties. And the technology’s ability to collapse distances and host meetings between people who may be thousands of miles apart is making it increasingly attractive to talent managers.

“Virtual reality is a very enticing technology for businesses – especially as it relates to recruitment,” says Paskey. “Through VR, you can place different candidates in very specific working environments and assess them based on their actual behavior in that given environment.”

From shortening the hiring process to helping reduce recruiting risk, artificial intelligence is also gaining traction in how leaders attract talent. Unilever, the Dutch-British consumer goods giant, is already using the technology to screen entry-level candidates, and has seen time spent reviewing applications falling by 75%.

Finding Talent

It is estimated that as many as 40% of the world’s employers struggle to fill positions, often due to the increasing need for digital skills. Technology can help close this gap.

One area where AI is proving invaluable is in identifying so-called “passive candidates” – people not actively looking for work, but with the skills that a business is looking for.

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