It’s the Work-from-Home era (WFH) for the globe. Our homes have not only become our place of relaxation but has transformed into our office and schools. According to CBRE, the world’s largest WFH experiment has encouraged homeowners and occupiers to reimagine their dream home, with a greater focus on smart and sustainable homes that offer them health, comfort, and privacy within a post-COVID world.
To highlight this trend, on June 2020, CBRE Global Research conducted a survey titled ‘The Future of the office: 2020 Global occupier sentiment survey’ of 126 senior-level global real estate executives from Fortune 500 and 100 firms, to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic will change the use of office space. 70% of respondents indicated that some portion of their workforce will be allowed to work remotely full-time and 61% indicated that all employees would be allowed to work outside the office at least part-time. The WFH trend is here to stay, if not for all industries and sectors then for the majority and this will translate into re-imagining the way homes are built and utilized.
CBRE highlights what homeowners and investors will look at in the GCC.
End-users may migrate from apartments to villas in line with their affordability
The GCC is expected to see a growing preference for larger, stand-alone housing units. End-users may migrate from apartments to villas in line with their affordability, seeking private amenities including swimming pool, garden or BBQ area.
Gabriella De La Torre, a Director in CBRE’s Consulting division, commented, “Residents living in smaller apartments are now looking to move to a larger stand-alone villa or townhouse to have more space, as well as enhanced amenities. This trend is also driven by greater levels of affordable pricing across the GCC market, encouraging end-users to upsize where possible.”
End-users may now consider moving from apartments to villas, in line with their affordability, seeking amenities such as:
- Private swimming pool
- Private garden/courtyard
- Office or study space
- Larger living area
- Outdoor seating
- Private outdoor BBQ area
CBRE has also seen instances, for example, of working couples based in the GCC choosing to leave their 1-bedroom units to larger, 2-bedroom units to be able to convert the second bedroom to a dedicated office space.
Change in home layouts to support more flexible lifestyles
CBRE expects that end-users will look for housing that offers extra space to set up a home office, home gym or play area for children. Incorporating flexibility in a physical way is expected to become more and more important. Architects around the world are identifying cost-effective ways of doing just that. One way to accommodate the multiple responsibilities of today’s lifestyles is the incorporation of movable walls or partitions which support the creation of separated areas for work, school and play.
Architects around the world are brainstorming and identifying cost-effective ways of providing more space. One way to accommodate the multiple responsibilities of today’s lifestyles is the incorporation of movable walls or partitions which support the creation of separated areas for work, school and play.
“In a post-COVID-19 era, the GCC housing market is anticipated to witness an accelerated pace for green and smart housing developments like The Sustainable City in Dubai and Aljada’s Misk Apartments in Sharjah, which are expected to be demanded products by end-users,” said Abdullah Altheraawi, an Analyst in CBRE’s Consulting division.
Increasing demand for smart and sustainable homes
The continuous increase in the number of internet and smartphone users across the GCC is expected to boost the popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT) amongst households via the adoption of smart home products including but not limited to a smart thermostat and smart lighting control. CBRE expects the increase in demand for smart applications within the home to be driven by:
- Need to reduce household utility bills via the adoption of smart / energy-efficient technologies
- WFH trend driving demand for user-friendly, technology-equipped spaces to support work activities
- Growing prevalence of smart surveillance systems, video doorbells and voice assistants (i.e. Alexa)
- The popularity of on-demand streaming services (i.e. Netflix) supporting demand for smart entertainment systems
With most households spending increasing amounts of time at home, end-users are witnessing higher utility bills, says CBRE. As flexible working becomes more prominent beyond COVID, it is expected that end-users will become more conscious about their homes’ energy efficiency. To support this trend, Dubai has launched various initiatives and regulations to further promote green energy:
According to CBRE, developments must comply with minimum energy requirements outlined in the ‘Green Building Regulations & Specifications, under the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy, Dubai is committed to generating 75% of Emirate’s energy from clean sources by 2050, DEWA has started transforming energy users to energy producers under ‘Shams Dubai Initiative,’ which encourages real estate owners to install solar photovoltaic panels. As of late 2019, more than 1,300 buildings benefit from solar power.