According to HR Managers, the key to success in the new hybrid world will be experimenting and being willing to drop policies that didn’t work and trying something new. This could include building a virtual office in the cloud using Virbela.
Virbela implemented a virtual office for its team of 180 employees where they work in a building that has six floors with offices, small meeting rooms, an auditorium, and a rooftop space. One of the floors is open to the public.
“Some team members sit in their virtual offices so people can walk in, and some people may close their door,” says Virbela CEO and founder, Alex Howland in a TechRepublic article. “We try to build in opportunities for more social interaction as well so it’s not just work.”
Creating a virtual space where remote and in-person employees can both use will help prevent having a second-class experience for remote workers and create a hub for all employees.
“With that approach, everyone is on the same level playing field and everyone has just as much access to leadership,” says Howland.
Howland started the company initially to provide management training to graduate students and eventually realized that virtual training can be as effective as in-person education, so he expanded that focus of the platform which added around 300 new customers since the pandemic.
Scott Likens, a tech leader at PwC, says one of the biggest challenges in terms of getting companies to implement this is that many think this type of technology is just for gaming, and is hard to implement. Likens sees two paths for this virtual reality to work: training that is completely virtual that can be done at home, and a more collaborative experience that involves numerous people and both physical and virtual elements.
eXp Realty, a residential real estate company, was one of Virbela’s first customers and has no physical offices. They operate in a “cloud-based campus” where they do everything to holding meetings to recruiting agents in a virtual office with over 60,000 agents in 17 countries.
Jason Gesing, CEO of eXp Realty, says that hallway and lunchroom conversations exist every bit as much in the virtual office as in the physical office.
“Keeping your microphone open when in public spaces is key in the virtual world so you can strike up a conversation with other avatars (i.e. colleagues) in the space that you may recognize,” he says.
Virbela has a web version of its software that works in a browser and has another option to download for a more immersive experience.
“Most of our customers use our off-the-shelf starter campus and they put their own branding everywhere so it feels like their space,” Howland says.