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New Work Lab

Using Virtual Reality to avoid traffic? NRW trials the concept

Keeping calm and carrying on in the face of long commutes and overloaded streets and trains, seemingly never-ending traffic jams: this is everyday reality in the German Federal State of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW). With a total of 454,907 kilometers of traffic jams each year, Germany’s largest state by population also tops the leaderboard of ADAC’s reporting on traffic jam volumes. People have been trying to resolve this problem through modern approaches to mobility for a very long time indeed, but so far, nothing has successfully reduced the number of commuters. With this in mind, the developers of the CoWin project have taken an entirely different approach, examining how far co-working concepts can be used in conjunction with Virtual Reality to avoid work-related journeys. WeAre is on board as a technology partner.

New Work Lab opens

The project was launched by Professor Andreas Pinkwart, the State’s minister of Economic Affairs and Digitization on November 22nd, 2018, at the Gelsenkirchen Science Park. The location is ideal for the project, as the Ruhr Region in particular is faced with high levels of commuter traffic. New space concepts and new technological approaches to the workplace of the future are being trialed at the “New Work Lab,” impressing the Minister, who said: “A workplace supported by Virtual Reality represents an opportunity for a wide range of career profiles and industry sectors as well as the creative and start-up economy.” In addition, the Minister expressed his views that a co-working office near to commuters’ homes could be a worthwhile alternative. Frank Baranowski, Mayor of the City of Gelsenkirchen sees the concept as a way to reduce the burden on the roads, with even greater benefits for the health and satisfaction of employees.

The project’s second site is located at the premises of Designhaus Marl. Axel Großer, Deputy Mayor of the town of Marl, stated that: “As digitalization is a driver of structural change, this model project will help to ensure that jobs are secured and employment levels are increased.”

Remote working becomes increasingly relevant

The aim of the CoWin research project is to attract professional commuters to local co-working spaces and to demonstrate that this way of working has a broader appeal beyond freelancers and startups, offering a wide range of benefits for employees, as workplace mobility represents a real challenge for industry. CoWin offers experimental spaces for decentralized working and encourages the development of skills for the digital economy. Businesses have an opportunity to address a number of issues related to new technologies and new ways of working:

  • What will the workspaces of the future look like?
  • How should a good remote workplace be configured?
  • Can commuters benefit from working in a co-working space instead?
  • Can satisfaction and productivity at work be improved?
  • Is co-working a good alternative to traditional workplaces?
  • Can effective communication and socialization be preserved?

Who is behind it

The CoWin project is initiated and implemented through a collaboration between FIAP e.V., the Gelsenkirchen Science Park and Designhaus Marl, and is supported by NRW’s Ministry of Economic Affairs. Both co-working spaces in Gelsenkirchen and Marl are equipped with a WeAre VR conferencing system to enable workplace collaboration through the use of Virtual Reality.

Sources

https://www.adac.de/der-adac/verein/aktuelles/staubilanz-2017/

https://www.wipage.de/detail/news/nrw-wirtschaftsminister-pinkwart-gibt-startschuss-fuer-co-working-projekt/

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written by
Bernhard Schaefermeyer & David Frühauf
Bernhard was responsible for the research, the editorial work, and the rough draft. David transferred the text into the final version. (Translation: TextMaster)

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