Remote work trends and their effect on the Real Estate industry

With long commute and morning traffic, it’s not surprising to hear that people seeking work from home jobs increased by 111% in 2017. In fact, according to Benefits Canada, a whopping 47% of employees worked from outside their employer’s main offices for half the week or more in 2017.

With the number of people who work from home on the rise, demand for home offices is also increasing. This effects not only the need for commercial office space but also how we use the space available in our homes. According to Magazine Canada, brokers have an opportunity to use this new trend to offer more agile office spaces. It also changes the way real estate agents and homeowners depict room usage when selling and staging homes.

More Businesses Offer Work From Home Option

According to another CBC article, remote workers appeal to employers who are trying to reduce the need for expensive office space. In hand with a noticeable shortage in skilled workers, they can attract more talent when they offer the chance to work from home. This attracts people with skills, but not necessarily the budget to afford housing in major urban centers.

In Canada's low-unemployment provinces people are interested in working for employers who allow telecommuting. More companies are willing to adapt to meet the demands of talent according to Tara Dragon. "From my discussions with organizations, they're finding that employees are starting to expect it, and they need to be able to offer those kinds of things to both attract and retain quality professionals," she told the CBC. Tara is the founder of the Edmonton company Work Evolution. They provide a job platform to help remote workers find telecommuting job opportunities.

Opportunity for Employers and Employees

"Some view it as an opportunity to save on their real estate costs, which, for knowledge organizations, can be the second-largest expense after people," Tara says. Considering the cost of office space can often amount to $10,000 per year per employee, it makes sense to find alternative ways to manage staff offsite. It also deepens the talent pool as employers now have the freedom to search outside of the city, the province or even the country.

Meanwhile, people are able to consider living outside of major urban centres where they traditionally had to stay to get the good jobs. Instead, they can find a more comfortable area with affordable housing prices and get more home for their investments.

Remote Work’s Effect on Commercial Space

Where big business was all about the impressive offices with killer views, the new reality is looking at smaller overall office spaces. Real estate agents have to be more responsive, offering agile solutions that can be more flexible to meet changing needs. The traditional office deal becomes more elusive in the long-term according to trends. More companies need to reduce office space because they have fewer workers on site. Real estate agents and brokers should be considering this trend, so they are better able to accommodate large companies with smaller office space needs.

As well, flexibility needs to meet the concept of office sharing. Although many workers don’t want to commute to work every day, there are those who still wish to work in a traditional office some days of the week. This requires access to office space for some but not all workers. Many businesses also require an occasional office space where they can meet with clients in a more established space. The trend for shared office space and temporary office or conference room leasing is on the rise.

The Future of Commercial Space

So how will the commercial space of the future look? Brokers will need to find innovative solutions that allow for workspaces, that go beyond a traditional “office.” This would include new concepts such as flexible, scalable solutions. Traditional long-term leases will also continue to meet the needs of some companies that might not require reinventing the commercial real estate deal process.

However, new approaches to deals can help other companies increase cash flow and see improvements to their bottom line. If they can invest less in commercial space, they can reduce the overhead. Real estate agents need to look for new ways to meet the changing landscape of the commercial industry.

Creating Home Offices for Remote Workers

From the residential perspective, real estate agents and sellers will have to learn how to present homes, so people see the opportunity to create comfortable workspaces. Telecommuting also affects where people will be willing to buy homes as their concerns about commutes will be reduced.

According to workspaces for the telecommuter doesn’t have to be necessarily formal. People want pleasant workspaces that are more comfortable and with plenty of natural light. Their offices should be unique with pleasant décor. Buyers are also looking for flexible spaces in smaller homes. Homeworkers in need of a workspace might have to be open to new ideas when house hunting. The homes available in your price range might not allow for a dedicated space for an office. This will require a little ingenuity and creativity to utilize limited space wisely.

How to Stage Home Offices That Sell

Real estate agents and homeowners have to be prepared to market to this new trend of buyers. You might consider using an extra bedroom as an office in a home with three bedrooms, or in a condo with two bedrooms where you are more likely to get singles or couples as your potential buyers.

You can appeal to those who are looking for office space, without taking away from the original function of the room. To stage a bedroom as an office you can:

  • Add office essentials such as the desk, chair, bookshelf

  • Spiff it up with simple details such as an area rug

  • Declutter the space to highlight its best features and functionality

  • Hang an interesting art piece on the wall behind the desk

  • Choose a calm neutral paint colour for the walls

You can also consider an area in the home that could offer double duty. Is there a nook where a desk might fit snugly? Extra space in the kitchen or a larger master bedroom? The trick is to show off how well an office could be introduced without taking away from a space or making things look crowded.

At we have experience in navigating the challenges of a changing real estate market. We can assist in your home search and find ways to accommodate your needs for a home office space. Reach out to one of our agents today so we can help you find your home.


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