How can developers build community in the evolving economy?

property development

The value of co-working spaces on residential developments

I’ve been talking to a friend of mine recently, who is travelling to the UK on business soon. A self-employed freelancer, he works from his home in Europe, providing services remotely to his clients around the world.

My friend will be staying with his family in the UK, but will also need to work. From experience, he knows that this will be difficult. The space isn’t conducive to productivity. So he has rented an office for the duration of his three-week visit. This could be a big clue as to the future for residential property development in the UK.

By 2020, 50% of people may ‘work from home’

The desire for office space in the home is growing in the UK, with the number of people working from home rocketing. Between 1998 and 2014, homeworker numbers rose from 2.7 million to 4.2 million – almost 14% of the UK’s workforce. Nearly two-thirds of these were self-employed.

Remote working has been made popular and accessible by factors which include improving internet capabilities, costs, and employer attitudes.

Since 2014, the number of employed people who regularly work from home has increased by almost 10% to 1.6 million, according to research by the TUC. IT and cloud computing consultancy and operator hSo has forecast that 50% of the UK’s workforce could be working remotely by 2020.

The problem for tenants and homeowners is the cost of space

Many of those working from home will be young professionals or people with young families. Providing dedicated space for what may be just one or two days each week is a costly exercise. It means, for example, buying or renting a three-bedroom property instead of two, with one of those bedrooms used as an office – and effectively a dead space for 250 days or more per year.

Whether a tenant or homeowner, the need for dedicated office space when it is needed is an expense that destroys a major benefit of working from home: saving money on commuting costs.

The solution for property developers is reassigning common space

Amenity space in residential blocks has usually been allocated to gyms, lounges, community laundry rooms and cinemas. Areas dedicated as office workspace have usually been preserved for student accommodation.

With changes to how people work, property developers that turn over community space to co-working facilities could sell more smaller apartments and improve profitability.

What do work-from-home residents expect?

Co-working spaces are likely to be included in increasing numbers of residential developments. As they are, the expectations of residents is increasing. A room with desks and electric sockets is just a room.

The qualities that are attractive to homeworking residents include:

  • A kitchen area for tea and coffee making, or an on-site coffee shop
  • Audio-visual rooms for client meetings
  • Superfast broadband connectivity
  • A lounge area with soft furnishings for downtime

When comfort combines with practicality, and is presented with a luxurious rather than spartan finish, co-working spaces will become hubs that help develop communities – in which co-working with residents matching complimentary skills really can develop.

Property developers providing residential units that deliver to the evolving needs of residents are likely to be the big winners in a marketplace in which the lines between work, rest and play are becoming increasingly blurred.

To connect with investors with long-term horizons, get in touch with Castlereach today. Call the team on 0207 923 5680. Our partnership will help get your new build and off-plan development sales to where you need them to be.

Live with passion

Brett Alegre-Wood

About the Author

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Castlereach. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids. Brett holds both the Level 3 Property Mark Qualifications for Property Sales and Property Lettings and Management.