5 ways the pandemic will change the way we think about housing

The most expensive thing most of us will ever buy is a house. However, most of us lead lives where we only spend a fraction of our waking hours at home. At least this was the case until recently…

Up until January 2020, before the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 outbreak a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’, a lot of us would only spend just 9 hours at home a day on average. Lockdowns and restrictions have provoked this figure to jump up dramatically, to 17 hours.

As a result of these changes, as much as 35% of workers now consider their home as their primary place of work.

These dramatic changes to the way in which we live our lives has caused a sudden shift in the way architects are having to think about housing. Here are five ways in which COVID-19 will likely leave a lasting impact on the way we build new homes.

Flexible workspaces

Ah, the home office. If you are reading this, there is a good possibility you would have worked from home at some point from one of these. The chances are you are reading this right now from one. From a study held last year, 26% of people planned to work from home at least one day a week even after the pandemic.

Although the home office is a good temporary solution, being isolated in a single room has proven to be an unhealthy long-term solution for many.

Since the start of the pandemic, the amount of people who have experienced symptoms of depression has risen to 11% from 7% (in a study conducted on 300,000 people by Kantar Health in 2020). When you work in the same room that you relax and eat in, it becomes difficult to keep that new year’s resolution you made back in January regarding a healthy work/life balance.

The answer is to avoid sitting in one spot. Having the ability to move around and having the freedom to choose the space in which you work increases job satisfaction, as well as boost productivity.

This will be reflected in the next generation of homes. Workstations will be in more open space and more accessible than ever to facilitate this way new way of life for workers across the world.

Accommodation adequacies

With more people being at home more often, there will be an increase in demand for higher quality homes. People being forced to self-isolate have had to remain in their homes for extended periods of time – which, depending on their homes, has led to varying results of difficulty.

The home buyers of the future will demand more from their properties in terms of comfort and practicality.

Air conditioning

With the UK having notoriously unreliable summers and a cool climate, there has never been a huge demand for air conditioning in new homes. For decades, homes have been designed from the ground up to retain heat rather than expel it.

For the comfort of residents and for the benefit of employers, managing the temperature in homes is essential. British homes become ‘heat islands’ in the summer due to extensive insulation, which is far from ideal for productivity.

The perfect temperature for productivity is no higher than 22°C according to a study. A study published in the journal PLOS One suggests that the average UK temperature during summer’s hottest month could reach 27°C by 2050. These types of temperatures are sub-optimal for productivity and could be even higher indoors due to the insulative nature of Britain’s houses.

This, paired with an ever-warming climate, would be of concern to employers all over the country and could lead to shifts in design for the future of British homes. From everything between air conditioning and a new approach to insulation.

Rural renaissance

In a time where social distancing has been a large part of our lives, living in the country has become more desirable than ever. With modest population densities and low infection rates, escaping to the hills has never been more attractive for UK house buyers. With virus concerns and the increase in reliability of VOIP technology, a rural renaissance may be ignited.

Where there is demand, there is supply; new home builders will be on the hunt for plots of land in more rural parts of the country.

Green space accessibility

With working from home being a major feature in future work life, escapism will be attractive for new home buyers. Being able to ‘switch off’ after a long working day is important and nothing will promote this idea more than having access to larger gardens and open public spaces.

What we can be sure of is that, even after the lethality of the pandemic has waned away, the long-lasting impact will be felt for decades to come in the construction sector and real estate. People have recognised the importance of living in a comfortable home for future of their health and well-being over the course of the pandemic.

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