Striking the right work / life balance has, to date, predominantly involved a tussle between hours spent in the office and hours spent at home with family. But what if your home becomes your office? This scenario may increasingly form part of the 'new normal' as societies readjust to a post COVID-19 world.
As this article shows, research suggests that 68% of Britons currently working from home due to the pandemic want to continue to do so even after the 'stay at home' advice is softened and businesses look to welcome back their full compliments of staff with 57% of all financial sector workers expecting to be working from home at least between 1 and 3 days per week.
Residential developers in the UK have not been slow to react to these statistics with reports that many are looking to reconfigure apartment layouts in an effort to accommodate an extra bedroom to be used as an office or incorporating movable partition walls for greater flexibility.
But what of Gibraltar? With land at a premium, the property market has seen year on year price increases (and this, despite the large volume of development seen over the past decade) which has resulted in many young professionals being priced out of the market. This has led to a proliferation of new studio and one bedroom apartments coming to market with the aim of allowing these first time buyers onto the property ladder or, at the very least, to provide a greater rental stock at more affordable rents.
Should developers in Gibraltar now change course? With a number of developments currently in their design stage, now would be the right time to do it. Can designers incorporate a small extra bedroom without requiring a major overhaul of the buildings' design ethos? Will purchasers accept smaller bedrooms or a decreased living area in order to accommodate that extra room for an office? Or, as my colleague Stephanie Acris observed in her post earlier this week, does the Gibraltarians' natural outgoing and friendly character (and short commute times) mean that the office is king thus relegating the relative isolation of working from home to a thing of the (pandemic) past?
That said, Gibraltar with its excellent and fully integrated fibre optic networks certainly has the capacity to have its workforce seamlessly operate from home and connect virtually so as to soften that sense of isolation a little.
As with life, it will undoubtedly be a balancing act and developers have careful decisions to make in the coming weeks and months.
The lockdown has forced all of us to change our plans. The same is true for residential developers, some of which have gone back to the drawing board to accommodate the new necessities created by the Covid-19 pandemic