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CBRE Embraces Workspace Of The Future With New Tech-Enabled Office In DFW

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CBRE is doubling down on its investment in hybrid working at its new Richardson office, the first in an enterprise-wide rollout of technology workspaces.

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CBRE is piloting Workplace 360, a technology office space, just north of Dallas in Richardson, Texas.

The 131K SF office, which opened in March, features state-of-the-art collaboration technology as well as a virtual reality studio where CBRE is piloting the use of the Metaverse. Sandeep Dave, the company’s chief digital and technology officer, said the office represents the changing role of space and technology in a post-pandemic world.

“Hybrid working is a priority for everyone,” he said. “The workplace is no longer a place where teams come to get work done, it’s a place where teams come to collaborate.”

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Workplace 360 ​​conference rooms feature technology that makes collaboration seamless regardless of a meeting participant’s location.

There are more than 1,000 CBRE employees based in Richardson’s office, Dave said. Enabling collaboration, whether employees are in the office or working remotely, is at the heart of this new effort, known as Workplace 360.

“That’s the whole point of this setup,” Dave said. “We redesigned the space and brought the technology to make it really happen.”

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Dedicated desks are a thing of the past in Workplace 360 ​​locations. Employees can choose from desks, cubicles, individual conference rooms and more once they arrive at the office.

CBRE currently has 50 Workplace 360 ​​offices across the United States with 42 more in the works, but the goal is to eventually migrate all of its offices to this model. An important difference between a traditional CBRE office and a Workplace 360 ​​office is the open office, said Brooke Carey, head of corporate real estate, design, construction and project management.

“The number of desks we put up here, or the number of individual workspaces, it’s a 1:1.5 ratio, rather than 1:1,” she said. “Because we know you’re not going to be here every day…an office doesn’t sit empty, and that’s a better use of real estate.”

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Meeting spaces of all sizes are equipped with collaboration technology at Workplace 360.

Workplace 360 ​​office conference rooms are equipped with technology that makes collaboration seamless, no matter where a worker is. Technology being tested in Richardson’s office includes cameras that track a speaker around the room, immersive touchscreens used for presentations, and contactless video conferencing that lets employees control presentations using their voice. Some conference rooms also have interactive whiteboards that in-office and remote workers can use to annotate and edit content.

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“This concept that someone who’s remote has less experience and less involvement, we can’t have that anymore,” Dave said. “We’ll always have someone remote and someone in the office, so how technology bridges that gap is what we’re trying to achieve.”

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Workplace technology manager Frances Dwyer demonstrates the use of interactive whiteboards, which transfer text written on the whiteboard to a nearby television screen.

Employees also have access to a proprietary app called Host that they can use to see who’s planning to be in the office as well as real-time occupancy. This gives employees the flexibility to decide each day which setting makes the most sense, Dave said.

“It puts the power in their hands, which is quite phenomenal,” he said.

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VR headsets can be worn to explore CBRE’s offices in the Metaverse.

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CBRE is also piloting the use of the Metaverse at Richardson’s office. A virtual reality studio includes three augmented reality headsets used for onboarding and training. For now, the technology is only used internally, but Dave said if clients want to use the technology for something like property tours, CBRE would be open to that.

“Our goal is to experiment constantly,” Dave said. “It’ll get to a point where it’s mature enough and usable enough, but we’re already starting to see people wanting to try some cool use cases.”

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CBRE’s metaverse technology allows users to visit the office space via virtual reality.

The majority of CBRE employees have expressed a preference for hybrid working, but the company acknowledges that this may change in the future. This office seeks to adapt to all possible scenarios, Carey said.

“Nobody has a crystal ball; nobody knows how we’re going to work in the future,” Carey said. “So we’re just trying to stay flexible and learn lessons from Richardson to move on to the next one. [office].”

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