Nooks, Balconies and Beyond: Rethinking Multifamily Design Post-Pandemic

December 2020

The pandemic has affected how and where professionals conduct their work in the near-term, with possible longer-term repercussions. How are multifamily developers responding to the changing work-related needs of their tenants? What are the implications for multifamily design?

Key Findings:

Nine months into the pandemic, an estimated 35% of all employed adults are working mostly or entirely from home because of COVID-19. It is probable that most of the nation’s suddenly-remote employees will return to the workplace once a sense of safety and normalcy has been restored; however, the number of people working remotely likely will remain higher than the pre-pandemic level, carrying implications for the design of multifamily projects.

— Multifamily industry participants are thinking critically about current remote working trends and how they may impact future strategy, yet there is a demonstrated aversion to over-correction considering the volatile and fluid nature of the current environment.

— Some designers and developers have begun to make incremental changes in support of an anticipated modest increase in remote work among their tenant base. Others have made no significant change to their existing strategy and do not plan on doing so.

— Changes in strategy have been reported by some multifamily developers and designers in key areas: building amenities, unit mixes, and in-unit design.

— One of the most notable changes developers and designers are anticipating in response to a potentially larger remote workforce is increasing diversity in unit mixes, especially when it comes to including more units with dens. There is clear expectation that the one-bedroom-plus-den format (1BR+den) will emerge as an increasingly attractive unit option. A rise in common-area workspace amenities and further growth in tenant demand for outdoor space, particularly balconies, are other key themes in the multifamily industry response to remote work trends.

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