The Personal Side of Working From Home
As many of you know or have guessed by now, I enjoy thinking about the business and macro side of the real estate industry. But I am living through this new reality just like the rest of you and dealing with the same human side issues as you.
My husband is an academic at Duke University, I have three children in middle and elementary school, and I am passionate about every facet of the real estate industry. As a family we are trying to figure out how to all work – schoolwork and professional work – in the same place. Adjustments are a daily ritual. There is no sugar coat for this experience. It is hard and I am proud of my family for recognizing T.I.N.A. – There Is No Alternative.
I have always read about the benefits of working from home. One often quoted statistic is that workers tend to be more productive. This has even been quantified – depending on the industry, the average seems to be about one full workday per month. That is baloney in the current environment.
There is no productivity gain when you are taking on the additional work of teaching (to augment the heroic efforts of our teachers and schools – thank you!); chef, even if it means pulling all the leftovers and lunch meats from the fridge and calling it a buffet, and every other focus grabber that comes with a full house.
And honestly, global anxiety is hard to tune out.
Each day brings new workarounds, attempts at better focus, and of course some failures no matter how well we think we’re adapting. I’ve started to consider how this translates to action in residential real estate once the shelter in place orders are rolled off.
We are going through an extended period of time where we are confined to our homes and learning about every square inch of our living spaces. We’re reminded several times a day about each tiny crack above the door or nick in the flooring, simply because we’re constantly here. These things are like the master’s blind eye in an Edgar Alan Poe story (See Tell-Tale Heart for a little light reading but try not to let these home issues drive you *that kind* of mad).
I forecast this will translate into a boom in residential construction once shelter in place orders are rolled off and we all feel comfortable with strangers in our homes again.
Second, we are using our homes differently. For example, a poorly configured or poorly functioning kitchen isn’t much of an issue when we cook a meal a day, at that. How about now that we are forced to cook three? Our kitchen’s inconveniences become almost unbearable. That new stove is looking like a solid investment right now for many of us. These worn out counters and cabinets have served us well for many years but now it’s especially hard to ignore their age, their outdated feel or their broken parts.
What about that home office you’ve been considering adding on? I bet you’re getting a little tired of having to clear your “desk” every evening so everyone can have a place to eat.
I created a room several years ago in my garage. Until recently it was largely a storage space. Now it’s my sanctuary. I even call it the Bat Cave. I close my door and I can’t hear anything that might be happening in the house. I highly recommend adding one of these in any way possible.
There has been a macro trend toward wanting smaller homes. While I think this trend will continue, I suspect homeowners will be moving forward with fresh ideas about layouts and how space is better utilized. Some will want a smaller eating area or nix a formal dining room to gain an office or flex room (office/bedroom). More nooks will be re-imagined into perfectly appointed offices or work-spaces. Architects and designers will be asked to think even more creatively about space utilization and maximized flexibility. This trend will move out of the “nice to have” category and will become mandatory requirements for many homeowners.
Eventually we will make our way back to The Office. But right now, I am doing my part staying home and washing my hands for 20 seconds… Which reminds me just how much I hate that this faucet leaks.