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This virtual island isn’t a video game. It’s the offices of a $610 million company.

All of eXp Realty's 1,500 employees work remotely on a virtual island complete with meeting rooms, a soccer field and speedboats.

This virtual island isn’t a video game. It’s the offices of a $610 million company.
eXp Realty
  • The virtual island can host hundreds of visitors simultaneously and provides each person with customizable features.
  • Visitors can select from various communication modes, including private meeting rooms.
  • An increasing number of employees worldwide are working remotely, and most seem to enjoy doing so.

More employees are working remotely than ever before. A study published in May shows that about two-thirds of people around the world work away from the office at least one day a week. It seems they enjoy doing so; the polling agency Gallup "has found that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee's decision to take or leave a job," it wrote in a report.

So, are brick-and-mortar offices destined to crumble if these trends continue? Maybe. Or they might be replaced by pixels.

A report from Business Insider shows how eXp Realty, a real estate brokerage company with 1,500 employees and a market cap of $610 million, has built its offices on a virtual island, doing away with physical spaces altogether, save for a legally required office in Bellingham, WA.

Business Insider

The company says its virtual offices bring some advantages, such as the ability to host 8,000 unique visitors per month and to hire full-time employees living in any part of the world.

Business Insider

Reporter Prachi Bhardwaj took a tour of eXp Realty's virtual island, which includes meeting rooms and offices modeled off traditional work spaces, but also the ability to meet and interact with colleagues on a beach, soccer field and speedboats. The program allows employees to interact in a variety of modes, as Bhardwaj described:

"Another small thing that I thought made a big difference was that, while we were in a virtual room, we were also in our own 'private room,' designated by that blue dotted circle surrounding us. That meant voices from other conversations didn't interrupt ours, and everyone's voices within our meeting could be heard equally clearly."

Surveys suggest that remote working brings some benefits to workers and companies, including increased productivity, lowered stress and decreased overhead. Of course, there are also drawbacks, such as remote workers feeling shunned and left out from the rest of the organization, as the Harvard Business Review reported last year.

What remains unclear, at least in the big picture, is what would happen if every worker of a company were remote. At eXp Realty, the results have been decidedly positive so far, at least according to CTO Scott Petronis. He might not have met one-third of his colleagues, but he said his colleagues are "more excited to meet one another in the real world—excited enough that they go out of their way to meet up during vacations when they're in a coworker's hometown or country."

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  • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
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The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC.

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Researchers are using technology to make visual the complex concepts of racism, as well as its political and social consequences.

Future of Learning
  • Often thought of first as gaming tech, virtual reality has been increasingly used in research as a tool for mimicking real-life scenarios and experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Focusing on issues of oppression and the ripple affect it has throughout America's political, educational, and social systems, Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn of Columbia University School of Social Work and her team developed a VR experience that gives users the opportunity to "walk a mile" in the shoes of a black man as he faces racism at three stages in his life: as a child, during adolescence, and as an adult.
  • Cogburn says that the goal is to show how these "interwoven oppressions" continue to shape the world beyond our individual experiences. "I think the most important and powerful human superpower is critical consciousness," she says. "And that is the ability to think, be aware and think critically about the world and people around you...it's not so much about the interpersonal 'Do I feel bad, do I like you?'—it's more 'Do I see the world as it is? Am I thinking critically about it and engaging it?'"
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Russia claims world's first COVID-19 vaccine but skepticism abounds

President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced coronavirus vaccine at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

Credit: Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Coronavirus
  • Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in Russia.
  • Scientists around the world are worried that the vaccine is unsafe and that Russia fast-tracked the vaccine without performing the necessary phase 3 trials.
  • To date, Russia has had nearly 900,000 registered cases of coronavirus.
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