Agent Careers

Back in 2005, the first-ever coworking space opened in California. Invented by a local entrepreneur, coworking was meant to give people the freedom to work on their own terms while maintaining the community of working with others.

Nearly 15 years later, the coworking industry is booming, with spaces popping up all over the world. Consultants and corporations alike are leveraging the coworking model, which promotes flexibility and synergy among workers while saving on infrastructure costs.

According to a 2019 study conducted by CoworkingResources, the number of global coworking spaces will soon cross 20,000 — with a projected increase of 42 percent by 2022. Another rapidly growing trend in today’s business world is working remotely. Forbes writes that working from home is now an option for at least 50 percent of the U.S. population. While this sounds like a dream to most employees working full-time in an office environment, remote workers often report feeling disengaged and lonely compared to their cubicle-bound counterparts.

Advanced Co-working

Enter VirBELA, an immersive technology company that has successfully merged coworking with working remotely — all via virtual reality. VirBELA’s mission is to improve the way people learn and collaborate together while geographically apart.

They accomplish this by creating cloud-based virtual worlds for their clients, similar to the video game Second Life, complete with customized avatars. These virtual worlds create a digital space for employees to gather, interact, learn and feel a sense of community—regardless of their location.

Founded in 2012 by psychologists Dr. Alex Howland and Ron Rembisz, VirBELA’s original purpose was to boost student engagement for online learning, particularly at the collegiate level. As Howland explains, “The idea for VirBELA stemmed from being in graduate school taking online classes and finding them very isolating and passive. I thought a VR platform would allow people to come together to learn as a community.” However, Howland says the sky’s the limit when it comes to the software’s many applications.

“The technology can translate to any business that can support a distributed workforce,” he says. “Education is one that quickly comes to mind, but legal, accounting and financial firms are other examples. Brick-and-mortar offices are incredibly expensive. Once they learn how to operate effectively in VR, adopters will be able to offer a business model that their brick-and-mortar counterparts won’t be able to compete with.”

eXp – The Virtual Reality

In 2016, a real estate startup called eXp Realty saw VirBELA’s vision of how a virtual workplace could revolutionize their business.

Glenn Sanford, eXp Founder and CEO, started the company in 2009 — a few short years after the real estate collapse of 2007. “After the collapse, it was imperative that we grow without a lot of overhead. That meant working remotely and doing business digitally,” says Sanford.

With remote collaboration and innovation at eXp Realty’s core, when Sanford discovered VirBELA’s capabilities, he knew it was a perfect fit. “As a brokerage with agents scattered around the country, building physical offices to accommodate our growing sales force would be time-consuming and costly,” he explains. “VirBELA’s virtual offices promote business growth and foster collaboration in a creative environment that was ideal for our needs.”

VirBELA developed a cloud-based campus for eXp Realty called “eXp World,” which provides an interactive training and networking platform for the company’s thousands of real estate agents and nearly 600 staff — who all work remotely. With eXp World as their online headquarters, agents and staff can be based anywhere as long as they have internet access.

As Howland explains, “Remote employees seek connection and community. VirBELA makes that possible. Our virtual offices help them feel included and promote constant engagement.”

The Real Deal

Since partnering with VirBELA in 2016, eXp Realty was named one of the “Best Places to Work” by Glassdoor twice. Says Sanford, “The virtual campus has been a big part of our growth. If we had the constraints of physical offices, it simply wouldn’t have been possible.” Seeing the value of VirBELA — combined with the growing trends of working remote and coworking — eXp Realty’s parent company acquired VirBELA in late 2018, bringing Howland on board as President of eXp World Technologies.

Editor’s note: This has been reprinted from “Excellence” magazine, which was published in October 2019 and distributed to attendees at EXPCON in Las Vegas. To get your own personal copy, you can order it via the eXp store.


These figures are not a guarantee, representation or projection of earnings or profits you can or should expect. They also do not include expenses incurred by Agents in operating their businesses. eXp Realty makes no guarantee of financial success. Success with eXp Realty results only from successful sales efforts, which require hard work, diligence, skill, persistence, competence, and leadership. Your success will depend upon how well you exercise these qualities.

Agent Careers
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap