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Insight on the Future of CRE  –  with Digital Solutions and Virtual Environments

…. That includes XR (eXtended Reality – including AR [Augmented] and VR [Virtual Realty]) providing digital renditions of new environments and digital replicas of the physical world – where people connect, perform various tasks, collaborate on projects, engage in meetings, etc.  This is often referred to as the future of work.

This contrasts to traditional offices that are based on –

  1. “ Cubicles “ for privacy as well as the flexibility to alter layouts to address different needs or changes in the business
  2. “ an Open Layout “ to encourage communications, collaboration, and community

+    conference rooms, meeting spaces, lounges, etc. to boost interactions, knowledge sharing, innovation, making decisions, etc.   

However, during the pandemic this became mute – since many people weren’t in the office !  Now that COVID has passed, there is the need to re-assess the best way to conduct business that recognizes new habits have formed and improvements in technology have made it possible to do many tasks from anywhere. To respect this, improve productivity, have more ways to accomplish goals, and the need for organizations to attract and retain top talent, the options going forward are –

  1. Have everyone in the office
  2. Provide the option for people to continue working from home (WFH)
  3. Have a “ Hybrid Work Model “ (HWM) with people in the office several days a week and WFH on other days

For companies wanting people in the office, there is a need for more spacious workplaces and more collaborative areas with appealing design and aesthetics plus digital services for group information sharing and visual communications, wellness, automation of building services, nearby community events, local merchant special promotions, adherence to ESG / health guidelines, safety, etc. This includes digital solutions for monitoring occupancy, air quality, energy, security, facilities cleaning, and other capabilities to ensure a healthy work environment and small building carbon footprint, etc.

In addition, with the expanding presence of technology, workplaces are increasingly including physical and virtual environments. 

For this to occur, an important consideration is to have a physical and virtual presence to expand opportunities as well as to increase relevance and revenue. With XR, organizations are able to – 

  1. improve – processes, decision making, operational efficiencies, etc.
  2. create new value
  3. make innovation more rewarding
  4. better manage the changing nature of risk

With these being significant benefits, organizations are better positioned to meaningfully improve outcomes and make decisions on a timely basis – regardless of where people are located, in-person or virtually. Essentially, with more ways to connect and effectively collaborate, it’s easier and quicker to leverage knowledge and make informed decisions. With shorter windows of opportunity as well as the need to be entrepreneurial and good at business innovation – it’s easy to see leveraging the real and virtual worlds is very advantageous – especially against organizations not leveraging technology to deliver new digital capabilities.

Since XR is new to many people, companies typically choose to have their virtual office mirror their physical one, creating familiarity and to make it easy for people to engage. An enhanced digital twin of the physical workspace builds a meaningful psychological connection to a company and its property. Further, XR and digital twins of the physical space expand the options to explore new scenarios and strategies to move the business forward, update processes, etc. 

After an organization utilizes XR and people become familiar with the environment, the next step is establishing a community with activities to create shared experiences – with business as well as personal interactions. By establishing an engaged community, people feel more connected to their peers and jobs since verbal and written communications is easy and effective, interactions and visuals enhance understanding, there is flexibility on how people engage, etc. – to facilitate people coming together to learn, share, and get things done. Further, with XR environments being inclusive workplaces, facilitate “ water cooler ” discussions or create serendipitous moments that can’t happen over traditional video conferencing platforms. And like in real life, this results in shared experiences by sparking dialogue, insights, etc. As well, integrating XR into the workplace enables people to have new experiences and engage in genuine interactions with others – regardless of physical locations, situations, being in-person, or being present virtually. 

As CRE organizations and tenants move their respective businesses into the future and consider what the working environment needs to be, plan for physical and virtual workspaces with technology to facilitate people connecting in various forms with tools to leverage their respective competencies and interests that makes it easy to learn and share information – to meaningfully improve outcomes.

And recognize CRE going forward is going to be different than in the past, those having digital competencies, strong look ahead, and good at business innovation will –

  1. have significant competitive advantage
  2. be much better positioned to attract and retain top talent 
  3. deliver more value
  4. expand revenue streams
  5. increase property appeal

With these being game changing benefits, all the best in making it happen.

June 19, 2023  by CAIL / Lighting Environments – Smart Buildings & Innovation commentary                                                                          905-940-9000