[+] Work-from-Home: Developers Answer Call of the New


The shift to work from home has transformed the way developers design residential living.

Words including ‘study’ or ‘office’ have been top search terms for buyers scouring property websites for the past three years, according to such sites, including Domain.

And property developers are sitting up and taking notice, thinking outside the box to bring properties to market that are a cut above the corner study nook.  

Highrise takes it to new level

One development among those putting such consideration seriously is Nineteen First Avenue on the Gold Coast, which features a dedicated floor for residents to work from in the residential building. The 37-storey tower is due for completion in 2025.

NPA Projects marketing agent Andrew Erwin says the work-from-home floor is in direct response to buyer feedback. “I’ve been hoping for a while to see a dedicated work-from-home level like this and now we have it,” he says.

“More and more people are working from home, coupled with the growth of the gig economy but usually it’s a makeshift office set up in their lounges or bedrooms. 

▲ A render of the workspace floor planned for Nineteen First Avenue at Broadbeach.

“But this is a purpose-built work-from-home floor with all the creativity, opulence and practicality of a city-styled workplace and it just happens to be in your building, so the commute is literally just a trip down the lifts.”

The $100-million-plus Nineteen First Avenue at Broadbeach has, the developers say, been designed to appeal to the evolving demand for a property that strikes an even more realistic work/life balance. Apartments are larger at 280sq m and have been designed to feel like a resort.

The gig economy was already growing strongly before Covid, with home offices mandatory in new builds. “I’ve seen some developers replace what would have been a laundry or bar area with an office to capitalise on this trend,” Erwin says.

Mirvac also recently announced the launch of Trielle apartments in Melbourne’s Collins Street, where 191 apartments include work pods to feed prospective purchasers’ appetite for premium, lifestyle-focused apartments.

A survey by Mirvac last year found respondents wanted a hybrid working arrangement, reflected in demand for home offices.

Of the property professionals surveyed (including developers, investors and real estate agents), 86 per cent revealed a separate work area was more important than ever.

Principal of property valuation firm Suburbanite Anna Porter says there’s also a trend for homes to incorporate more than one office, which adds value.

Backyard pods pre-manufactured off-site valued at between $10,000 and $40,000 and fitted out as offices are also popular, Porter says.

“People are still working from home very regularly, as well as the office. His and hers offices are becoming more popular so people can have their own private workspace, independent of our partners or children, allowing them to conduct zoom meetings in private.”

▲ Principal of property valuation firm Suburbanite Anna Porter says pre-made pods fitted out as offices are popular.

Hoping for a hybrid life

Data from the National Australia Bank that outlined evolving buyer priorities since the pandemic highlighted the increased demand for an office area. Demand was particularly strong in NSW and Victoria.

Research by demographer Mark McCrindle reveals that since Covid began, two in five Australians (41 per cent) have worked from home. Almost one in four (24 per cent) continue to work from home, while 13 per cent are back in the office.

Half (51 per cent) of Australians see remote working as the default way to work as workplaces strive for employee wellbeing and improved mental health outcomes. Young Australians are more likely to look for a hybrid work approach, preferring to only come into the office for meetings and project collaboration.

Offices here to stay

The home office might be having its moment in the sun but that hasn’t detracted from the value of office space in the current market.

JJL’s Workforce Preferences Barometer (2021) revealed that 63 per cent of the workforce wants to maintain the flexibility of being able to alternate between the office and working from home.

Colliers reports that there was 1.690 million square metres of inquiry nationally during the second half of 2022, a 4 per cent increase compared to the start of the year and a 5 per cent increase on 2021 levels.

The numbers suggest that demand for office space is returning post pandemic, Colliers managing director office leasing Simon Hunt says.

Office tenants were once mostly concerned about how many per seats they could squeeze into an office but there’s now a growing focus on other measures such as the cost impact of a building’s ability to help the tenant meet their environment, social and governance (ESG) commitments, the Colliers national director, tenant advisory and occupier services, Sarah Hughes says.

▲ While work-from-home alternatives continue to emerge and grow in popularity, the offices of CBDs are far from a spent force.

Even major companies that have championed flexible work arrangements are investing in new office space, including Deloitte, she says.

“The office is now much more than a tool to facilitate work—it is a place you go to undertake tasks that you cannot complete from your home office while enabling collaboration and connection and providing a sense of belonging that ultimately fosters a positive culture, in an era of varied working styles,” Hughes says.

Real estate valuers Preston Rowe Paterson chairman Greg Preston predicts that the office market will tread water this year until inflation is brought under control and capital markets normalised.

He expects the office market will come back into line this year as employers look to strike a balance on time spent working from home and time in the office.

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Article originally posted at: https://www.theurbandeveloper.com/articles/work-from-home-design-residential-living