• Thomas Marsh

How will Covid-19 change the way we live? – could purpose built co-living be the answer

Updated: Jan 21

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we knew it in a crazy amount of ways. What will be the future of renting - does a spare room provide enough of the right space? What will our first home or next home that we own look like - does a flat provide enough of the right space?

The real estate ecosystem typically defines the way people live, travel, work, shop, play, socialise and sleep. Sleeping is the only thing that hasn’t changed (other than the late night Netflix binge or the 9am alarm) albeit their bedrooms might have become an office for the duration of the day. However, I’m sure some people were thinking about bringing back their childhood bunk beds with their desk below. Will COVID finally change the biggest and most costly waste of space, the bed, to bring forwards more versatile bedrooms where the bed folds away to allow a pop-up desk…

So how have our consumers attitudes, behaviours and purchasing habits changed by not being reliant on stations, office, retail and leisure, and how has this impacted our home (or spare room), which has always been central to our lifestyle, but is now the only centre for all the above. In the short term, all the service we rely on will be affected, but looking to the long term when mitigations are in place for future epidemics, what will have changed?

As the outside world went quiet, our homes became our sanctuary but were we content with them? We all swapped our sweaty underground commutes to work for a short walk to our make-shift desks at home. We set up our own indoor ‘gyms’ (if having a yoga mat in living room counts as a gym). We searched for parks and walks to occupy the hour or two of commuting we got back. We cooked and ate fresh sourdough and became less reliant on food for the sake of it. But these weren’t the only behavioural changes the coronavirus caused. Here’s some more food for thought:

1. Working from home until…forever?

We all know remote working has been on the rise over the last few years. But according to data from the Office of National statistics (ONS), the number of UK workers who have moved into remote working has increased by nearly a quarter of a million over a decade. Which is massive! And that research was conducted before coronavirus hit. Plus, more data suggests 50% of the UK workforce would be working remotely by the end of 2020. So, you could say the recent pandemic has been a catalyst in speeding up the behavioural change of working from home or remote working.

On the other hand, how productive have people been during lockdown? Is the future home set up with the right space to work? How has team bonding continued? We believe technology like Zoom / Microsoft Teams will streamline a lot of tasks and therefore working from home will increase but for perhaps 1 or 2 days a week. The physical and social presence will still be required for people to be valued and feel part of the company’s mission.

Co-living can fill this shift by providing stylish spaces such as co-working, library, café and a roof terrace, which can aid working in a productive manner.

2. Home-come-gym

Here’s a question: has coronavirus shown us all how accessible technology has made working out to get our endorphin hit? Perhaps so! It’s safe to say that when the UK went into lockdown, we woke up to a health and wellbeing revolution. And there’s stats to back it up. Last year the global wellness economy was estimated to be worth $4.5 trillion. And in a recent YouGov poll, health was ranked as number one on the public’s agenda. And that was before we really knew the extent of how Coronavirus would affect our daily lives!

We have now got used to working out from anywhere with the easy access to our own virtual personal trainer but will this be the future? Jumping up and down in front of the TV, Everesting on the stairs or doing a marathon around the garden all became normality. Perhaps these trends wont continue but the convenience of working out at home without having to purposely plan to travel to a gym might.

Imagine if you could take this home workout to the next step, with gym equipment and quality space on your doorstep – and potentially do your home workout with other people for extra motivation… This is what purpose-built co-living allows, a gym in your building.

3. Four white walls and… parks and grass

COVID has highlighted that our properties could be improved with a bit of TLC. Que’s for IKEA and gardening centres have been constant since they have opened. However, are we putting lipstick on a pig… Are current developments ignoring the shift to more versatile space – do we want 100 sq ft 400 sq ft, 500 sq ft, 700 sq ft (spare rooms, studio’s, 1 or 2 bed flats) with no or limited additional space? Parks became the solution for the majority of these occupants but should this be the only solution?

Co-living will solve this required versatility of space by providing different, stylish environments to live, work and play in a building, maintaining productivity and improving our mental well-being. Additional lounges, games rooms, library, co-working, café/bar and a roof terrace will simulate an environment of a mansion but an interactive one.

4. Social

Who enjoyed Zoom dinner parties and doing pub quiz’s? It maintained and highlighted the social experience we all crave but will this be the future? I think not… too many voices lead to chaos and therefore large groups do not create the same experience. Being together on one video call or clapping together to show our support to the NHS, has shown the power of community and our drive to belong together.

Co-living is all about a social community with common values to honour people who want to learn, explore, and create or who want to be different, courageous, or generous. This has never been more important than before.

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