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Insights on CRE Owners and Tenants benefitting with Digital Solutions, XR / the Metaverse, etc.

Metaverse and XR (eXtended Reality – including AR [Augmented] and VR [Virtual Realty]) are digital renditions of new environments and digital replicas of the physical world – where people perform various tasks, collaborate on projects, engage in meetings, etc.  …. the future of work.

Historically, many offices are based on –

  1. “ Cubicles “ for privacy as well as the flexibility to change layouts to address different needs or changes in business
  2. “ an Open Layout “ to encourage 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. And with the need for organizations to attract and retain top talent, which is the best way forward –

  1. Have everyone return to the office
  2. Provide the option for people to continue working from home (WFH) full time
  3. Have a “ Hybrid Work Model “ (HWM) with people in the office several days a week and WFH on the 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 various additional 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, air quality, 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 footprint, etc.

To improve outcomes, workplaces going forward will integrate the physical world with virtual presence, made possible by expanding technological capabilities and a range of digital services for the physical world and having a virtual presence.

In conjunction with the digital portion of the future workplace, an important consideration is having a virtual presence in XR or the metaverse. As organizations do more virtually to expand opportunities, relevance and revenue into XR, there are many options to further improve – processes, decision making, operational efficiencies, etc. + create new value  + make innovation more rewarding + better manage the changing nature of risk. With these being significant benefits, organizations are better positioned to meaningfully improve outcomes on a timely, informed basis – regardless of where people are located, and/or if they are present in-person, and/or virtually in a meeting with real people, and/or virtually in the metaverse. 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 thatleveraging the real and virtual worlds is very advantageous – especially against organizations lagging in leveraging technology to deliver new digital capabilities.

Since working in the metaverse is new to many people, companies 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. Extending on, metaverse environments expand beyond a digital twin of the physical space to expand the options and make it easy to explore new scenarios to move the business forward, update processes, etc. 

After an organization creates a metaverse where people are comfortable, 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. – the metaverse environment provide an appealing forum for people to come together to learn, share, and get things done. Further, with metaverse offices being inclusive workplaces, as well as allow for “ water cooler ” talk or other serendipitous moments that can’t happen over traditional video conferencing platforms – this sparks insights (like in real life). Integrating the metaverse into the workplace enables people to have experiences and enjoy genuine interactions with one another regardless of physical locations or varying needs. 

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 the form of their preference with the tools needed to leverage their respective competency to meaningfully improve outcomes. And recognize CRE going forward is going to be different than in the past with those having digital competencies, strong look ahead, and are good at business innovation – will have significant competitive advantage + be much better positioned to deliver more value, expand revenue streams, and increase property appeal.

May 9, 2023   by CAIL / Lighting Environments    –   Smart Buildings & Innovation commentary