5 Trends Condos Can Expect to See Now That Most of Us Will Continue to Work From Home

Working from home

As we begin to think about life after this pandemic is over, one thing that many of us believe won’t return to normal is the 9 to 5, Monday to Friday office schedule. One study found that only 12% of people want to return to full-time office work, while 72% want a hybrid remote-office model.

It’s not just employees that are reluctant to return to the office full time now that we know we can successfully work from home. Employers are keenly aware that crowded, open-concept spaces won’t work for employees post-pandemic. Team members will be mindful of every sneeze and cough, even after social distancing has become a distant memory. Employees will want more space at the office when they do come in, but employers figure they won’t need to invest in larger spaces, even as companies grow, if the whole team won’t all be in the same place at the same time.

For those who can work from home (roughly 40% of U.S. workers), our work experience might become more balanced and manageable. We won’t be stuck working from a couch or makeshift desk all of the time, but we won’t have to spend so much time commuting, either. A hybrid model could balance the efficiencies gained by remote work with the benefits of in-person interactions that cannot be replicated on Zoom. But this shift will have latent consequences for people who live in condo communities. These five trends will almost certainly emerge in big and small condo buildings as we continue to work from home.

Waring neighbors

One of the biggest issues plaguing condo communities is noise. Condos don’t offer as much privacy or serenity as detached homes, so associations make rules about noise to ensure everyone can enjoy being at home.

Rules are important because they prohibit specific types of behaviors, such as playing the drums at midnight, from occurring during times when these activities would obviously disturb others. In many associations, residents receive fines or are penalized in some other way for breaking noise rules. But now, there might be rowdy children playing in the halls after breakfast, neighbors talking loudly in virtual meetings on their balconies, and vacuum cleaners running during lunch.

It’s much harder to keep the peace when everyone’s always at home. However, there are some steps residents and managers can take to help ensure noise issues are addressed and resolved before they get out of hand.

If you’re a resident:

Let your neighbor know about the problem. There’s a good chance they weren’t aware they were being so loud. You can write a letter or speak to them directly, but remember to be polite
If it’s something they can’t really do later or control, consider whether you can do something (like invest in noise-canceling headphones)
If the noise is unreasonable and the neighbor won’t do anything to stop it, submit a formal complaint to the property manager or board

 

If you’re responsible for enforcing rules:

Take the complaint seriously, but make sure the complaint is in fact a problem. If it appears to be a personal issue, then it needs to be resolved between the neighbors
See if more than one neighbor has made a similar complaint about a resident. This is typically a good indicator that the issue is serious enough to be escalated
Ensure a formal complaint has been submitted before taking action. You may need to instruct the resident on how to do this
Notify the resident making the noise. After formally receiving a complaint, the board may decide to issue a warning or a formal notice to the resident
If the issue persists, then fines or other actions may be taken, depending on what the governing documents say about violations. In a worst-case scenario, the issue would be taken before a judge

More frequent repairs

Since residents will be using appliances and facilities more often, dishwashers, toilets and dryers will experience a higher volume of wear and tear. If you are in charge of condo operations, make sure residents know what repairs they are responsible for completing, and what repairs will be covered by the association. You can send out an email or letter that details who is responsible for maintaining what. This task is a lot easier if you use condo management software.

Boxes galore

Online shopping has become essential since the pandemic. Condo residents can order groceries, clothes, office supplies and so much more to their building, making it a very convenient, and safe option.

According to one report, people spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020! That’s up 44% year-over-year. Working from home means residents have more time to shop online, and will need to continue ordering things like paper, ink, speakers, chairs, etc., to ensure their home workspace is functional and comfortable. Condos can expect deliveries to continue coming in, and will need either a package locker or some sort of system to ensure boxes aren’t overwhelming concierge staff working at the front desk.

Security and concierge will become more essential

Speaking of concierge, security and concierge staff will become more important to condo communities. Not only will they help to ensure residents receive their deliveries, they will be the ones to make sure the people and the property remain safe. There might be more cars in the parking lot, more bikes on the rack, or more activity in shared facilities. Scheduled patrols help guards keep watch of the building’s most vulnerable areas. Security and concierge staff also help to minimize criminal activity, vandalism, and disruptive behavior.

Greater availability of ready-to-eat food

This is an exciting trend! As the economy becomes stronger and restaurants have the ability to resume normal operations, some condo buildings may see an increase in stores that offer quick and healthy meal options. Restaurants located near tall office buildings may not ever get the same amount of lunch traffic they received before the pandemic since people won’t be going to the office so much. As such, businesses that serve food may relocate or pivot to accommodate hungry condo dwellers.

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