When the coronavirus outbreak first erupted, many companies were quick to shift their employees to remote work. At first, it seemed as though working from home would be a temporary setup. But now, a good 15 months later, a large number of people are still working from home -- and want to stay that way.
In fact, 63% of employees now prefer remote work, and 30% plan to keep working at home even after the pandemic is over, according to real estate service Clever. Not only that, but one-third of current remote workers say they'd rather quit their jobs than go back to an office, according to staffing firm Robert Half.
Clearly, this shift in the way people do their jobs has had a huge impact on office REITs (real estate investment trusts) and will likely continue to do so. If employees keep working remotely, companies will no doubt seek to downsize office space. But this new trend could also impact residential property owners.
Accommodating remote workers
Before the pandemic, many apartment renters focused on amenities like gym facilities and swimming pools. Now, they're increasingly looking for amenities that make it easier to do their jobs from home. And that's a trend landlords should be aware of.
This especially holds true for landlords in smaller cities that have seen an influx of renters in the wake of the pandemic. There's been a mass migration away from large cities and over to smaller ones, as well as into suburbs, as remote workers have sought to increase their living space and lower their housing costs. Landlords with properties in these areas have a prime opportunity to not only attract renters but also command higher prices for their rentals.
Specifically, remote workers are likely to seek out rental units that come with a dedicated workspace or extra room for one. They may also favor units with lots of natural light and windows so remote employment seems less claustrophobic.
Garden apartments could also be a huge sell in an age of remote work. When the weather allows for it, employees who do their jobs from home could benefit from having outdoor space to expand to.
But that's not all. Remote workers rely on a fast internet connection to be productive, so landlords catering to them may want to upgrade their wireless service and use that as a selling point.
Furthermore, since remote work can be isolating, many people doing their jobs from home are apt to want different options that allow for some degree of socialization. As such, landlords may want to think about ways to give remote workers different places to work from. That could, for example, mean converting party rooms in buildings to coworking spaces, or even setting up small desk areas in building lobbies to give remote workers a change of scenery.
While some employees may be itching to get back to an office, and some companies are insisting on in-person collaboration, a large number of people are likely to continue working remotely in some capacity for the foreseeable future. And while that may not be the best news for offices, it gives residential landlords a chance to boost their revenue by making the right accommodations.