As the dust settles and restrictions ease in the UK, there has a great deal of talk about how workplaces must change to fit a new, more flexible working life. But there hasn’t been quite as much discussion as to how this might impact post-pandemic housing developments.
And yet, over the past 18 months, the amount of time we spend in our houses has almost doubled, from 9 hours, much of which was spent asleep, to 17 hours, which suddenly incorporated work, school and socialising.
This radical change in our day to day lives will undoubtedly have an impact on architects and housebuilders, and the way they approach residential space going forward. As many choose to continue working from home for at least part of their working week, the spaces that are created by house builders may need to be rethought for maximum flexibility and increased comfort.
1. The home-office
It may sound obvious, but as flexible working becomes a part of employer consciousness for the long term, the floor plan of home spaces will need to change to reflect this. With around 35% of workers now considering home their primary workplace, we might begin to see a more regular addition of the home office on the ground floor of new build homes. This would avoid the need for people having to work, eat and relax all in the same space, in turn boosting both productivity and mental health.
2. Green space
Though the temptation may be to fill land with as many houses as can be fit into it, calls for outdoor recreational space are likely to become more persuasive. Achieving work/life balance is a big driver in the WFH push, but this is difficult when having no physical divide between work and life. Having access to outdoor public space will be attractive for those who predominantly work from home. Post-pandemic housing developments may feature green space more predominantly.
3. Natural Light
Coupled with this, there may also be an increased desire for natural light as a way of bringing the outside in. Dual aspect windows in homes, bi-folding doors, conservatory space, skylights; glass could play a much more prevalent role in housing developments after the pandemic.
4. Energy savings
With people spending more time at home, and the cost of energy rising, many people have seen their utility bills spiralling since the beginning of the pandemic. Eco-friendly homes are going to be more in demand than ever. Solar panels, insulation, and energy-efficient lighting and appliances will be more of a deciding factor for buyers, and we may see a rise in smart homes as a standard feature in post-pandemic housing developments.
The way we feel about our homes, and the way we live, after being confined to them for such a long time will inevitably have changed. Over the coming years, we may see that reflected in the way new houses are designed and built, leaving a positive post-pandemic legacy within the construction and real estate sector.