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March of 2020 will likely be remembered as a turning point in America’s long storied housing industry. Unlike the financial crisis of 2008, housing may now be more of the cure than the cause. We’re told that staying in our homes is the best solution, and we’re pushing them to the limit with work, education and life. Indeed, Americans are now forced to consider again where we live, how we live, our neighbors, our personal space, our community, and how we all work together. All these considerations will impact buyer behavior and product decisions going forward. Crises tend to accelerate trends, the trend of remote work and now our collective experience with it has the potential to reshape housing in America.
In 2019, approximately 43% of people worked from home occasionally, while only about 5% did it exclusively for their job. But this has been changing fast. Over the last decade companies were increasingly relying on freelance employees who work remotely, which before this current crisis was already expected to be 50% of the workforce by 2027. The benefits to employees and companies from a remote-work lifestyle were already beginning to show up in productivity, performance, engagement, retention, and profitability. Now, with companies learning to deploy remote work on a large scale, this trend is likely to increase even faster.
Last week, within a few days of most office employees moving home to work, sales of home office equipment soared, and people scrambled to set up desks and determine the best positions for video conferencing. While these new remote workers were forced into these situations, how many companies will find they need less office space to operate? How many employees will find they enjoy working from home and want their homes to be designed for it? What types of spaces will people want in homes of the future to accommodate the potential for social distancing and remote work? Will open floor plans still be the trend, or will we revert to historical home design with spaces more compartmentalized for different uses? Do we have the bandwidth and connectivity needed to serve this new remote work style and how does that affect the features required in a home?
These trends and others are at the forefront of our design team discussions at Onyx + East. We’d love your feedback and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– David Leazenby, Vice President of Acquisitions