It’s not quite an age old question but it’s certainly one that more and more developers and BTR operators have been asking, What Impact Will Hybrid Work Have On New Homes?
Many of our readers, partners and clients have made the transition to more flexible remote working after the pandemic upheaved our working norms. With our homes becoming our part-time offices, new build developers are being encouraged to reflect this change in their upcoming development plans. Developers and BTR operators no doubt will be watching hybrid work trends with interest, with competition being high for both investors and tenants. Those that create the most advantageous environments will not only better accommodate the advancing needs of their tenants, but ensure tenant satisfaction and increase the chances of long-term tenancies. In this article, we have outlined the three key areas that hybrid working will have the greatest impact on in future homes: from the growing importance of outdoor space, use of communal facilities, and creation of distinctive ‘work’ and ‘home’ spaces.
Many of us became home-working hermits at the height of the pandemic and lamented when we were only able to leave the confines of our homes once per day, which has reinforced our appreciation of nature and outdoor spaces. In fact, the Royal Horticultural Society have shown that access to outdoor spaces are beneficial to our mental health and can contribute to a sense of general wellbeing. Although gardens are more commonplace in New Build Houses, flats and apartments should also offer a range of spacious, airy features to make tenant’s hybrid home/work environment feel less claustrophobic. Terraces, balconies, and floor-to-ceiling windows create the illusion of more space by offering access to more natural light and create more transparency between the indoor and outdoor realms. What’s more, recent research by Rightmove demonstrated that the second and third most searched for features on their lettings platform were ‘balcony’ and ‘garden’ respectively, an increase in search popularity since 2019. Developers have been quick to respond to this increase in outdoor interest: in Birmingham alone, Moda’s open-air running track, Snow Hill Wharf’s communal garden, and Fifty Sixty’s quaint Juliet balconies are examples of recent endeavours to make the outdoors more accessible and provide respite from the confines of the home-office. Centrick are proud to be a well-respected advisor for many BTR operators, helping them pinpoint up and coming trends such as hybrid working and integrate modern facilities into their developments to optimise resident’s standards of living and satisfaction.
Speaking of amenities, facilities across all New Builds are of increasing importance to tenants who are hybrid working. With employees spending more time at their properties, they are becoming increasingly reliant upon on-site facilities due to their convenience. Perhaps the most important facility for hybrid working tenants is reliable internet access. Good broadband is the core pillar upon which most of us rely for our connectivity to our colleagues and online work platforms, and is so vital that the government have instituted a law for gigabit broadband to be part of all New Build developments.
Ample travel facilities are also becoming increasingly necessary for hybrid workers due to the nature of their changing work schedules. This goes beyond the convenience of a development to train stations, but rather constitutes access to car parking, electric vehicle charging points and bike storage. Tenants are willing to pay more for the convenience of parking facilities, with on-site and secure parking making the office to home working transition much less stressful by providing ease of access to your vehicle. Convenience doesn’t just constitute ample parking facilities: on-site retail outlets for convenient lunch-breaks are becoming increasingly popular for hybrid workers, who merely have to walk to their development’s foyer to grab lunch or their daily groceries on their work break. Research by C B Residential indicates that 65% of tenants with access to on-site retail facilities actively use them, with 50% of residents also utilising the development’s dry-cleaning facilities. It seems that tenants appreciate convenience, especially when working from home. For developers considering integrating commercial spaces within BTR or PRS developments, Centrick Commercial are able to help you find the best mix for your scheme.
When your home and office are interchangeable, the stress of the working day can seep into your personal life or, alternatively, the informality of your home life will begin to impact your work ethic. Many residents tackle this issue by drawing a distinct line between work and home, which is starting to impact the future of New Build design. Single occupants are seeking additional rooms to use as their designated office space rather than repurposing their existing spaces, especially since repurposing a sofa or bed as an office space can be detrimental to one’s health. Research indicates that those working without a desk and chair are subject to a range of health problems from poor posture to early onset arthritis. What’s more, working from your bed or sofa can inhibit productivity by encouraging procrastination. Many residents are utilising their kitchen islands, breakfast bars or – if they are fortunate enough to have one – their spare bedrooms to repurpose into functional, distinct office spaces.
To combat the work from home slump, developments are offering collaborative working spaces to replicate the office set-up albeit within a few yards of your own home. Accessible meeting rooms and workspaces (all within easy reach of a convenient coffee machine) are becoming more commonplace as hybrid working is popularised: The Mercian is a good example of a development that balances formality with informality that embodies the essence of hybrid working.
Centrick’s BTR, Land and New Homes teams supports developers to help them create the next generation of homes for tenants and buyers alike. For more information on how you can make your development appealing to modern modes of working, and add long-term value to your properties, get in touch today.
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