Working virtually from the 64th floor

Imagine if you awoke in the morning and instead of stepping out the front door to start your usual daily routine of fighting your way onto a packed train or bus with thousands of other commuters and hustling your way into the city office, the only place you had to be was home. Technological change is stirring and it may have a resounding effect on corporate productivity initiatives.

In 2014, Facebook announced the acquisition of Oculus VR – a virtual reality technology company developing a head-mounted display for immersive technology virtual reality (VR). Now why would Facebook acquire such a company? This question will no doubt be on the minds of many shareholders and electronic aficionados world-wide. However, how many Corporate Real Estate teams or C-suite individuals are paying attention to this kind of activity? This type of technology could have major implications for CRE and beyond. As companies increasingly seek to align real estate portfolios with wider strategic objectives, CRE teams are exploring new ways of improving productivity and efficiency in the workplace. This begs the question of how VR and other emergent technologies will influence the future workplace.

Picture a world where rather than venturing to the CBD headquarters you will now instead immerse yourself in an ergonomically designed home office, pull down your VR head set and step into a virtual office space to collaborate with your co-workers. The corporate office environment would undoubtedly be different to the current benchmark. Not only could you interact with any member who was linked in to the platform but you could also tailor your interaction to meet the needs of the task at hand, in a setting that is mutually beneficial. You could easily tap into a creative zone with a push or a button to start discussing a team project or you could alternatively find yourself bare feet walking along a secluded beach discussing sensitive information with a client, ‘Inception’ style. There could be a plethora of landscapes to help facilitate communication and concentration alike.

In my view something along these lines is not far away for your next boardroom meeting. You could even step on to the treadmill and exercise whilst participating in a meeting with your peers. Not only would new technology like this reduce the need for physical office space, delivering the real estate cost savings so desperately sought by many CRE teams, but it could also reduce employee commute time that might be better spent working but also increase the personal interaction that is currently missing from current work from home (WFH) technologies.

According to a recent report from McKinsey, the impact of the Internet of Things’ (IoT) could create as much as $11.1 trillion a year globally in economic value.[1] Economic impact from IoT will be greater in advanced economies, given the possibility of larger cost savings and higher adoption rates. It is estimated that Business-to-business applications will account for nearly 70% of the value that will flow from IoT in the next ten years. The office environment will surely be impacted by changing technologies and the need to increase collaboration and improve efficiency and productivity. Budding technology is primed to impact the design and function of office space, the management of real estate portfolios and even the procurement of workers. So how will technology influence your office experience in the future?



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