PHOTOS: CBRE Embraces Workspace Of The Future With New Tech-Enabled Office In DFW
CBRE is doubling down on its investment in hybrid work at its new office in Richardson, the first in a companywide rollout of tech-enabled workspaces.
The 131K SF office, which opened in full in March, features cutting-edge collaboration technology as well as a virtual reality studio where CBRE is piloting use of the metaverse. Sandeep Dave, chief digital and technology officer for the firm, said the office represents the evolving role of space and technology in a post-pandemic world.
“Hybrid work is at top of mind for everybody,” he said. “The workplace is no longer a place where teams come in to get work done, it’s a place where teams come in to collaborate.”
There are more than 1,000 CBRE employees based in the Richardson office, Dave said. Enabling collaboration whether employees are in-office or working remotely is at the heart of this new effort, known as Workplace 360.
“That is the whole purpose behind this setup,” Dave said. “We redesigned the space, and we brought in technology to really make that happen.”
CBRE currently has 50 Workplace 360 offices across the U.S. and another 42 in the pipeline, but the goal is to eventually transition all of its offices to this model. One important difference between a traditional CBRE office and a Workplace 360 office is open desking, said Brooke Carey, Corporate Real Estate Head of Design, Construction and Project Management.
“The number of desks that we put in here, or the number of individual workspaces, it’s a 1:1.5 ratio, rather than a 1:1,” she said. “Because we know you aren’t going to be here every day … a desk doesn’t sit empty, and it’s a better use of real estate.”
Conference rooms in the Workplace 360 office are equipped with technology that makes collaboration seamless regardless of where a worker is located. Tech that is being tested in the Richardson office includes cameras that follow a speaker around the room, immersive touch screens used for presentations, and touch-free videoconferencing that allows employees to 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.
“This concept that somebody who is remote has a lesser experience and less participation, we cannot have that anymore,” Dave said. “We will always have somebody remote and somebody in the office, so how technology bridges that gap is what we are trying to achieve.”
Employees also have access to a proprietary app called Host that they can use to see who plans to be in the office as well as real-time occupancy. This gives employees the ability to decide which setting makes the most sense each day, Dave said.
“It puts the power in their hands, which is pretty phenomenal,” he said.
CBRE is also piloting use of the metaverse at the Richardson office. A virtual reality studio includes three augmented reality headsets used for onboarding and training. As of now, the technology is only being used internally, but Dave said if clients wanted to use the technology for something like property tours, CBRE would be open to it.
“Our goal is to continuously experiment,” Dave said. “It’ll get to a point where it’s mature enough and it’s usable enough, but we’re already starting to see people wanting to try interesting use cases.”
The majority of CBRE employees have expressed a preference for hybrid work, but the company acknowledges that could change in the future. This office seeks to accommodate all possible scenarios, Carey said.
“Nobody has a crystal ball; nobody knows how we are going to work going forward,” Carey said. “So we are just trying to stay flexible and learn lessons in Richardson to take to the next [office].”