With the once very clear line between work and play now blurred and concerns that gyms, social spaces and other sanctuaries may continue to be inaccessible should future lockdowns occur, caring for our wellbeing, both mental and physical, has become a must-have and not a luxury.
Home sweet… office?
Digital nomads aside, for many of us, working from home was an occasional occurrence before 2020; it was a practical decision to accommodate an inconveniently timed repairman visit or a medical appointment. Working from home was never something many of us could see ourselves doing day in day out. However, 2020 proved to be the ultimate WFH experiment. With the likes of Google and Facebook encouraging home working until at least summer 2021 and many other companies considering a flexible approach for the long haul, it is fair to say that working from home, for many, proved to be more productive than expected.
As we all tried to adapt to the ‘new normal’, our internet searches were very telling of how our home environments and habits were evolving. Though the odd day working from an unforgiving dining room table or bar isn’t so uncomfortable when we were faced with the prospect of doing this for an unspecified number of weeks during the first lockdown, searches for basic office equipment, like laptop risers, spiked throughout the UK.
Individuals became their own ‘Office Managers’ and searched for ways to increase their physical and mental wellbeing when working from home by creating a comfortable set up with the right equipment to help their posture as well as their motivation.
Many chose to brighten their home office and the rest of their house with greenery. Cut off from the outside world as we knew it, web searches and purchases of house plants skyrocketed during the first lockdown, with many attempting to bring nature indoors.
All being well…
With our beloved gyms closed and only being permitted to go outside once a day for exercise, staying fit required more willpower and planning than ever before. Bedrooms and living rooms were rearranged to become personal gyms as online fitness classes boomed and the Joe Wicks phenomenon saw over 80 million of us tuning in from around the globe. Naturally, searches for home gym equipment had a moment during the first lockdown so the world could sweat from the comfort of their own home. Whilst we all remember how supermarket shelves were stripped bare of everyday essentials, like toilet paper, pasta and eggs, in a flurry of panic buying, there was also a shortage of bicycles too as sports shops were caught off-guard by unprecedented demand. Indoor bike purchases also skyrocketed with award-winning Peloton doubling its membership base and upping its revenue by 172% in 2020.
Nature (quite literally) on your doorstep
Though outdoor space has always been a coveted asset in a property, it has become exceptionally sought-after during 2020. With gatherings inside public venues and private households restricted, owning an outdoor space is seriously advantageous right now as it offers a safe space to unwind with friends and family outside of your household. UK property search portal Rightmove revealed that during May 2020 the number of searches for properties for sale with gardens was up 42% when compared to May last year. Demand for residences with outside space was even higher amongst renters with the number of searches rising by a staggering 84% during the same period.
However, it is not only property owners and renters who are adapting their living situation. Taking into account the demand for exterior space and the need for private spaces to exercise, relax and work, property developers are also rethinking residential projects. Gardens are becoming a more regular feature in project plans, even in city centres, and for apartments on higher levels large terraces big enough for a dining table are providing a welcome alternative.
One high-end ski property developer in Les Gets in the French Alps had originally planned to create a communal spa for residents to enjoy. However, after consulting with the team at Athena Advisers who highlighted the growing trend for personal wellness spaces, they are instead creating private spas and wellness facilities for individual properties, allowing residents to come home to their own sauna and jacuzzi after a hard day on the slopes. Not only does this facilitate privacy but also means that should future lockdowns occur where spas and gyms were forced to close, property owners could still have access to wellness facilities. A safe space to relax and unwind is simply non-negotiable.
Plus with many companies considering downsizing or doing away with offices altogether, for many working from home will be the new norm even once the pandemic is over. Architects are increasingly integrating home offices in their designs, creating a calm and private space for professionals. For properties lacking this additional space, interior designers are helping to reshape the flow of properties in order to create comfortable ‘work corners’ in order to have clear allocated spaces for work and relaxation, enabling us to switch off come ‘home time’.
Though the various lockdowns around the world sparked these trends, it looks like our increased appreciation of wellness is here to stay with many companies making work from home an integral part of their strategy moving forward. I wonder how many of us will be getting yoga mats and Fitbits for Christmas this year?