In just a few months the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live and the way we work. Companies were confronted with an overnight shift to remote work in a rapid attempt to safeguard employees and flatten the curve. In a recent survey, 62 percent of employed adults reported working from home specifically due to concern from the outbreak.
Increased Flexibility in How and Where We Work
While the pandemic has certainly been a catalyst in the shift to remote work, it is also part of a larger trend pushing toward density and more communal workspaces. This trend took shape in response to a growing gig-economy and an increasingly mobile workforce as well as rising rent prices in major metro areas.
Pre-COVID, on a typical workday, workstations were being used only 55 percent of the time. Now that companies have had a taste of what telecommuting can look like, it’s not hard to imagine that many will not be returning to the traditional structure. The need for each individual employee to have a dedicated workspace is simply not there. The shift in workplace strategy has already begun to surface as companies like Facebook, Twitter, Slack and Square have announced that their workforces will have the option to work from home indefinitely.
This is not to say there is not a need for office space. The office plays an important role in developing company culture and in recruiting. Humans are inherently social, and employees will always need a space to gather and to connect with their peers. But we do predict a hybrid model with both flexible office space and a work-from-home option to become available more broadly.
Office Space in the Residential Market
As we continue to adjust to this new reality, many have been taking this opportunity to reflect inward, particularly in their own home. The space has had to adapt, morphing into a functional office, a school, and the primary space for leisure time.
Additional bedrooms have always been a value-add and that is expected to remain as a large portion of potential buyers now need that extra guest bedroom to double as an office. We also expect flex space to become more popular, such as layouts that allow kitchens and dining rooms to double as a space for work or school.
With the increased amount of time being spent in the home, another consideration expected to become more heavily preferred is outdoor living areas like backyards, porches, patios and balconies.
The way we are utilizing space has changed and buyer demand is likely to follow suit.
Tony Julianelle is CEO of Atlas Real Estate, a Denver-based full-service realty firm specializing in real estate investments, brokerage, and property management.