Since COVID-19 disrupted our lives in early 2020, Americans have changed the way we live, play, and yes, the way we work. A June 2020 study from Stanford University found a staggering 42% of the American workforce is now working from home full-time. However, working from home presents a unique set of challenges: inadequate internet speeds, cramped living quarters, lack of privacy, and loud surroundings, to name a few.
Now that so many employees are working from home – and will continue to do so for months to come – how can multifamily properties attract and retain tenants during the pandemic?
Work from Home Essentials
With more Americans than ever leaving the traditional work office environment behind, society is struggling to adjust to the “new normal” of telework. Hasty transitions into working from home have meant getting creative. Initially, dining room tables became office desks, closets became quiet workspaces, and work schedules worked around toddler’s naps and elementary school virtual learning.
Now, as we recognize the potential long-term impacts of the virus, more and more businesses are instituting work from home policies that last through the end of the year and beyond. With employees recognizing they may be working from home long into the future, tenants are looking to expand their living space and create more sustainable at-home offices.
Some employees are even moving locations altogether. We’re seeing residents move from crowded city apartments to suburban areas. Others want more space, especially as they spend much more time at home and away from others. These tenants are looking for multifamily properties than can improve their lives during a pandemic. They’re looking for properties with dedicated office space, better access to high-speed internet, quiet surroundings, and amenities that allow them to keep their mental health in check, too.
How Multifamily Properties Can Cater to Work from Home Tenants
During the first phase of the pandemic, many multifamily property managers and property owners saw a decline in tenant turnover. Even during the typically busy months of late spring to early summer, multifamily properties across the nation saw some of the lowest turnover rates in a decade.
However, now that residents recognize the prolonged nature of this pandemic, they’re looking for ways to better manage working from home.
For multifamily property owners, this is an excellent opportunity to renovate and market properties aimed at those teleworking during the pandemic. Providing the following amenities will increase the desirability of your property for potential tenants and encourage retention of current tenants.
1. Dedicated Office Space Either update floor plans with dedicated office space, or market dining nooks, extra bedrooms, or additional space as a potential office space. Property managers might also consider adding co-working space in the main lobby or another common area. However, these areas should follow all CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
2. Increase Internet Access and High-Speed Capability Reliable, fast internet access is perhaps the number one consideration for employees working from home. Consider updating your property’s access capabilities. Additionally, you may want to invest in a high-speed, high-quality WiFi system to which all tenants can connect.
3. Outdoor Areas This pandemic has severely impacted our recreational options. With so many of us spending nearly all our time at home, it’s more important than ever to have easy access to private or semi-private outdoor areas. Properties with outdoor amenities like swimming pools, barbecue areas, gardens, and green spaces will be more attractive to tenants. Consider landscaping or adding other amenities that will give your tenants a quick escape from their at-home offices.
4. Energy Efficiency Because work from home tenants are spending nearly all their time at home, it’s important to deliver energy-efficient living spaces. This may mean updating your current systems to save tenants money on their utility costs. Increasing Social Interaction Safely During COVID-19: How Multifamily Properties Can Make Life Better for Tenants
Finally, many employees are feeling isolated as they work, live, and play within the walls of their homes for long periods of time. However, during a pandemic, social interaction can feel nearly impossible. Property owners can appeal to both prospective and current tenants by increasing a sense of community among residents. Offering a few socially distant ways for residents to connect with one another can make an otherwise isolating situation feel more bearable. Plus, if residents feel connected to where they live and work, they’re more likely to suggest your property to friends and family looking to relocate.
At-Home Offices Are the New Norm
With the pandemic showing few signs of vanishing any time soon, we can assume the at-home office is a new staple of American life. For multifamily property managers, that means finding innovative ways to appeal to potential and current tenants.
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