By Richard Jackson, Co-founder and Managing Director, Apache Capital
As well as further accelerating the growth of e-commerce, the other lasting effect and fundamental shift property will face post-Covid-19 is the move to agile working. Make no mistake, we’re not going to return to ‘old norms’, but instead a ‘new normal’ of working and living.
The home will be the new office for many at least part-time and highly amenitised, highly serviced Build to Rent stands to gain significantly as a result.
From Silicon Valley stalwarts such as Facebook and Twitter to major corporates like RBS, large companies across the world have announced many of their staff will be working from home in the short to medium term, if not indefinitely. Other firms will no doubt follow suit.
Fundamentally, if people are working at home regularly and for the long term, they will want to live somewhere that can comfortably accommodate both their office hours and their down time.
It’s not just employees thinking about how housing will play into future working patterns – employers are too. We’ve directly experienced this at Angel Gardens, our flagship project with Moda Living, having just signed a major corporate pre-let during lockdown that will see 25% of the final phase apartments occupied.
The entire development is wrapped in high speed WiFi, while all the apartments come with super-fast broadband pre-installed to guarantee plug-and-play connectivity as soon as you move in.
However, while the strong digital infrastructure and dedicated workspaces provided at Angel Gardens were no doubt major draws for our corporate occupier, it was the whole lifestyle we’re offering to our customers with Moda Living that ultimately got the deal over the line.
Our new residents at Angel Gardens will benefit not just from the privacy of their own home, but round-the-clock service delivered by a professional on-site team. They also have access to a 24-hour gym and flexible multi-functional space that can adapt its usage throughout the day, including an open co-working sky lounge, library, private dining area, media, cinema and games room – plus meeting rooms to work and hold meetings.
The building staff also organise regular community events and our customers benefit from multiple partnerships – big and small, such as the ‘digital wellness’ pioneer Hero Wellbeing.
Fundamentally Covid-19 has demonstrated a shift to agile working, where the office is no longer as central to working life as it was historically.
As a result, the quality of housing will be a major consideration for employers going forward, as many will be working from home at least some of the time. This will feed into rising demand for what we like to call four- or five-star UK Build to Rent – or what the US knows as Class A multifamily.
Post-virus, housing that caters to the new normal – by providing spaces to both work and relax under one roof will attract more attention from consumers and corporates – as the recent success at our Angel Gardens development with Moda Living demonstrates.