Apartment and Condo Buildings are the New Office Towers

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Is your multifamily or condo building ready for the reality of the post-pandemic work world?

If it isn’t, it needs to be. Remote work is here to stay. As a recent CBC story pointed out, many workers are enjoying the flexibility to work in sweatpants and dodge traffic jams on their daily commute.

According to a report by Statistics Canada, 32 percent of Canadian employees between the ages of 15 and 69 worked most of their hours from home at the beginning of 2021. That's compared to just four percent in 2016.

Working from home expectations

The desire to continue working from home is global.

Ireland, reports HR writer Kristina Vassilieva in Talent Canada, has launched a national strategy to make remote work a permanent fixture in the country’s workplaces.

With this new strategy, expected to be enacted in the summer of 2021, employees will have the right to request remote work. It will not, however, be guaranteed and employers can refuse the request.

PwC Canada recently reported that 64 percent of employees working remotely say they wouldn’t be or aren’t sure they’d be comfortable returning to the workplace in the foreseeable future. Other reports show people expect to be working from home permanently or in some sort of hybrid home and office situation.

More immigrants working remotely

With tens of thousands of work-ready immigrants (many from the IT sector) ready to come to Canada once travel restrictions are lifted, remote working will be the reality for a significant number of them. 

Your property management or board needs to make adjustments to reflect this new reality. Your rental/condo building has been transformed into an office building, and it needs to act like one.

Some of the changes that should be made to your building include:

  • Open daytime access to all meeting, conference and library rooms, with proper furniture for remote workers. If there are security concerns, have cameras installed.
  • Prompt reopening of all amenities (gyms, pools, common spaces, etc. if you have them), according to public health guidelines. All work and no play is really bad for your remote work mental health.
  • Access to a shared printer, which, of course, you would pay for. This is a must in the new multifamily work from home reality. Make sure your landlord doesn’t cheap out. Security or the property manager can provide access.  Video connections and presentation technology are also essential.
  • Wireless connectivity in the work/common areas. Some places really cut corners on this but going forward into the work from home universe WiFi connectivity has to be everywhere in the common areas and free (well, invisible is the more apt description; the cost will be recovered in fees somehow). Make sure the provider is reliable.
  • No hassle parcel delivery and pickup. Like it or not, your building is now an office, and the number of business and personal packages arriving daily will only increase. This used to be a seasonal issue only, but now it’s an everyday concern. Make sure your building is set up to receive and store deliveries and to promptly alert you. Your boss and co-workers are depending on you for that quick response!

Many other changes can be made, but most importantly, your building management needs to recognize this new reality and act accordingly.  As Kyle Hagerty wrote in propmodo.com, “Younger renters are converting space meant for dining into workspaces, forgoing a table for a desk, or using that space for workout equipment.”

Hagerty correctly points out that “home offices are becoming a necessity, especially for a growing class of young working professionals who rent.”

Your building is now an office tower. If you have a residents and/or owners board, make sure they are aware of this new reality and are making the necessary changes to accommodate this new multifamily workspace world.