5 ways to build for the work-from-home trend 02/06/20
The traditional real estate playbook is to provide a sturdy foundation and exterior, sound engineering and an aesthetically-pleasing, and a well-functioning interior. But what else are modern residents looking for in their building? According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 43% of Americans in 2016 worked from home at least occasionally, up from 39% in 2012. And the survey of nearly 200,000 employees found that many more Americans want that flexibility: 51% said they would switch to a job that allows them to work flexible hours. Let’s take a look at 5 ways to cater to this growing demographic, in order of increasing cost and effort.
1. Reliable Internet Service
Having fast, affordable, and reliable internet service is perhaps the most important requirement for people who work from home. Building owners should ensure that residents have access to great Internet in their homes as well as the building’s common amenity space. The latter is a key perk for residents who use the space for coworking purposes, and you can even use the internet service for community building initiatives such as hosting Game of Thrones viewings with HBO Now, sports viewing parties with YouTube TV, or Netflix movie nights. Yet only 52% of people are satisfied with their current internet service provider. Offering a better option for internet service is key for building owners who want their building to stand out and appeal to tenants who work from home.
One such option is Starry Internet, a new ISP that uses millimeter wave technology to deliver lightning-fast internet service through the air to your building, all at no cost to you. Installation is hassle-free, uses the building’s existing wiring, and only takes a few days. Starry uses the same short-range, high-speed frequencies that 5G technology will rely on, with typical speeds of 200 Mbps up/down. The $50 flat, unbundled cost is a point of differentiation for residents who want the best internet service. Starry’s internet service is available in Boston and Los Angeles, and is coming soon to over a dozen markets including Washington, DC and New York. To learn more about how to bring Starry to your building, contact email@example.com.
Above: The Starry Station, a state-of-the-art WiFi hub that lets users see their speeds, access settings and more.
2. Functional Interior Features and Design
For the work-from-home demographic, well-designed interior architecture and features are powerful. Offering different light settings, for example, can allow residents to set the tone for the activities they want to do. Natural light can increase occupant productivity by helping the body to wake up, while dimmable, warm glow lights can set the tone for entertaining and relaxing. In terms of spatial design, something as simple as making sure a kitchen has an open design and flows well with the surrounding areas, can upgrade a space to be amenable to people who work from home. Soundproof windows, walls and floors can help improve focus and prevent distractions from street noise or loud neighbors. Thoughtful consideration of what makes a home functional for multiple purposes can ensure that good tenants will want to stick around.
The Beverly, Bulfinch Triangle
3. Amenity Space for Work
With co-working office spaces like WeWork becoming more prevalent -- and more and more people working from home due to flexible work arrangements -- residential developers are including similar spaces in their buildings. Many prefer to have physical separation between their work and living spaces, and communal spaces provide the opportunity for social interaction. Isolation and loneliness are chief complaints of the work-from-home demographic. Others may have roommates or small apartments, and the option to work in their building’s common area can help boost their productivity.
Common spaces that are fit for coworking should include dedicated areas for different purposes. For instance, there should be a section with comfortable seating arranged so that people can face each other for informal meetings and group work. There should also be an area set up with long work tables and chairs for individual work or collaboration. Access to a printer/scanner and water/coffee station can increase efficiency and comfort. Mac stations are a nice amenity to include if you have the budget. Some crucial finishing touches include outlets (lots of them!), comfortable and practical furniture, and purposeful decor and color choices to evoke intended emotions and energy levels.
West Square Apartments, South Boston
4. Bookable Conference Rooms and Phone Booths
Shared spaces are great, but people who work from home may also need a safe space to join meetings or take important calls. Bookable conference rooms and phone booths solve that problem and are a great option to consider if you have the space and budget. Conference rooms work well when set up with a large table and surrounding chairs, a large screen or TV, and a modern teleconferencing solution such as Google Hangouts and a webcam. For the phone booths, make sure to add soundproofing to minimize disruption and ensure privacy. Depending on how much space you can spare, phone booths should contain at least 1-2 chairs and a place for users to put their laptops and phones.
Park Lane, Seaport
5. Gym and Multi-Function Exercise Space
An amenity that you may not be thinking of that relates to working from home is easy access to a gym. In a study of renter preferences across the U.S., 82% of renters say an on-site fitness center is an important amenity, with 55% saying they wouldn’t rent in a property without one. Many of these renters work from home and prioritize the option of exercising in the middle of the day without having to worry about travel time. Exercise can preserve memory, improve focus, and restore energy levels. Taking care of your body and mind on your own schedule is simply an unmatchable amenity!