The Virtual World is the Future of Work
The University system has made great strides towards a greener, more sustainable learning environment with online education in recent years. All four of my Millennial children have participated in online learning for some portion of their education. E-Commerce has made a world of difference to our shopping habits as they affect the environment.
But what about the workplace? What is the future of work when we consider a more sustainable business ecosystem?
First, let's see how the workplace has been changing over the last decade. According to the Census Bureau's survey department, the ACS, or American Community Survey, some things are changing for the better...some things not so much.
The Numbers and Cost of Commuting
The 2016 Commuting Survey found that over the last decade, the number of commuters has been slowing, in proportion to the number of workers in the U.S. More people are telecommuting than ever before, 7.6 million people, or 5% of the workforce. Of those commuting, 5% take public transportation, 9% carpool, and the largest percentage drive alone - 76.3%.
The not so good news? The average commute time is up to an all-time high: 26.9 minutes.
This translates to an average yearly cost of $2600 per commuter. This represents just over 117 hours a year in commuting time for the average person. The ACS calculated a cost of $25 an hour in lost wages. That represents $2936 a year.
One more hidden cost of commuting that we often forget is the cost to our health. The Environmental Protection Agency has been doing studies in California on the effects from exposure to fine particulate matter pollution on commuters. Studies point to an increase in health problems and emergency room visits.
Why the Future of Work Is Not Grim
All of these statistics may seem grim, unless you consider that almost half of American workers have jobs that are suitable for telecommuting. With the right kinds of technology, working from home is a viable solution for many American's, even if it is part-time. Think of the relief this would mean to our roadways, our skies, and of course, our pocket books!
In the last decade we've seen an increase in technologies that make work more flexible and more sustainable. Working from home has been normalized by many companies. Conference calls are easily conducted with software like Go to Meeting, Skype, or Zoom. The fact that a few short days after Zoom listed on the NASDAQ, their shares nearly doubled in price says something about these technologies!
Another exciting technology that many may not be aware of is the various avatar based programs that are working well for work or school. (Think Fortnite, except for work and productivity.)
Our company, eXp Realty, is a national company which has replaced bricks and mortar offices with an avatar-based world, eXp World. Since 2016, our avatar workplace was developed by a company called VirBELA. VirBELA specializes in providing collaboration, training, and custom development using Virtual Reality and 3D immersive technology. Several institutions are embracing virtual reality successfully.
Most online courses have terrible completion rates and low engagement levels. That’s why the Stanford Business School has chosen to host Executive Education programs in VirBELA designed virtual classrooms where students have a 95% completion rate.
Since migrating to the VirBELA eXp Campus, eXp has grown over 200%, been valued at over 1.2 billion, and were named one of the “Best Places To Work” by Glassdoor in 2018 and 2019.
"The virtual campus is a big part of our growth engine. If we were to have the constraints of physical offices, the growth we’ve had simply wouldn’t be possible." -Glenn Sanford, CEO, eXP Realty
Our company offers more than 30 hours of classes, training, masterminds and meetings each week to our more than 18,000 real estate agents and staff. All within the avatar world, while we sit at our computers. The screen-sharing technologies we employ make it easy to share documents or processes.
In our own state, at eXp Realty Maryland, 300 agents can show up for the required compliance meetings without leaving their homes. If they can't make the meeting, we live-stream and record it for later viewing.* Just think of all the cost saving! The gas and miles on the car! It is truly a green solution for businesses.
If it works for a real estate company, why not other industries?
Imagine not needing to get on a plane to travel to meet with your team in another city. Just get online and have a remote conference. Share your computer screen with everyone in the meeting room. Crunch numbers, look at forecasts, whatever you do in real life, you can do in the virtual world.
VirBELA builds a custom world to meet the needs of businesses or schools. Check out the open campus and see the possibilities. The implications for a positive impact on our environment are amazing!
* Another technology that eXp Realty uses is Facebook Workplace. It makes for a fantastic collaborative online community. Our meetings are live-streamed into our Maryland Workplace Group, much like one would live-stream into Facebook. All recordings are kept for later viewing in the group files.
Technology is a wonderful thing! It's changing the way we work for the betterment of people and the environment.