The rise of purpose-built work from home developments

Co-working and co-living spaces are not new but in the last few years, there’s been somewhat of a marriage between the two – a blended model that is now at the forefront of residential development, thanks to Covid-19 and its impact on working from home trends. 

Some are calling it community living, where you have a private living space but gain access to amenities that you share with your neighbours. It’s a concept that has actually been around for almost a century in the UK, although most of us will only be aware of the more recent examples in the form of student halls of residence and retirement complexes. 

More recently, developers and property investment firms have taken inspiration from their European counterparts and started to build multi-purpose developments in the UK – places that you could argue are completely self-contained. 

They aren’t small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) or blocks of studio flats with shared bathrooms and kitchens. They are modern complexes with co-working spaces increasingly at their heart. And it’s what UK professionals want as research by Lloyds Bank confirmed that a dedicated work space at home is an important factor when considering a move. 

What can you currently expect? 

The 21st century has seen an explosion in the development of co-living complexes and most have been targeted at renters. 

Cynics see them as developers cashing in on maximising the income of properties, cramming in as many small residential units as possible and dressing up the communal spaces as complementary add-ons. Others consider it a solution to the shortage of housing supply and unaffordable rents. 

Whatever side of the fence you sit on, it cannot be denied that for many, this type of living is an increasingly sought-after lifestyle choice – one that is only set to rise as working from home becomes the norm and fears of social isolation worsen. 

Most prominent in large cities, these purpose-built developments often have on-site laundry facilities, communal outdoor space, gyms, shops, bars and restaurants. Some organisations, such as The Collective, specifically target young professionals, digital nomads and the gig economy by providing small residential units in vast apartment blocks. These tend to feature an impressive array of not just communal and work spaces but a calendar of social and professional events. 

It’s a trend that Build-to-Rent developers recognise too. Compared to last year, the number of build-to-rent homes under construction or planned across the UK has risen 22% and we’re set to see an increased leaning towards work from home facilities included in these schemes.

In line with the Code for Sustainable Homes and more recently, the amended London Housing Design Guide, private dwellings of the future will likely have more space earmarked for working within the private dwelling, as well as accessible communal areas. These spaces could feature everything from desks, monitors, printers, copiers and a high-speed internet connection to bookable meeting rooms, work from home pods and conference suites – either included in the cost of the rent or service charge, or available for an additional fee.

Future development plans to plug the gap

To date, most purpose-built developments have catered towards tenants and/or specific groups of people. However, more developments are starting to pop up that feature a mix of property types for a range of budgets – to buy as well as to rent. Marmalade Lane in Cambridge is just one example and positions itself as a co-housing community.

Looking to the future, it’s clear that the cost-effectiveness, collaborative structure and community aspect of this multifunctional style of living will certainly appeal to many, especially as people spend more time in their homes and local areas. 

Whether the hybrid model is here to stay will depend on the creativeness of developers, quality of services and affordability of the property. If you’re looking to move to accommodate more home working, contact us and we can connect you with suitable properties.