The Impact of Remote Work on Multifamily Housing

Author: Kasee Godwin
Date: 02.14.2024

The shift towards remote work has been one of the most transformative trends in recent years, affecting urban planning, real estate development, and the housing market. 

Roughly three years after the COVID-19 pandemic, recent numbers indicate that 35% of US workers do so remotely. With almost 40% of all US households renting, the WFH trend has drastically changed how rentals are marketed, operated, and utilized. 

Impact on Demand

As professionals embrace the flexibility that remote work offers, there’s a noticeable pivot in residential preferences, with an increasing number of individuals and families opting for locations previously considered less desirable due to commuting constraints. This has led to a surge in demand for multifamily housing in suburban and rural areas, where residents can enjoy larger living spaces, natural surroundings, and a sense of community without worrying about daily commutes to urban centers.

This trend alters the urban-suburban dynamic, challenging property managers and developers to rethink their strategies. Urban areas, traditionally the epicenter of multifamily housing demand due to proximity to workplaces, are now competing with suburban locales that offer the allure of more indoor and outdoor space and potentially lower costs. 

This shift necessitates a nuanced approach to asset development, recognizing the diverse needs of a workforce no longer tethered to office locations.

Design and Amenities Shift

Initially triggered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the quest for larger living spaces has evolved from a temporary necessity to a sustained preference among residents. 

Residents prioritize apartments that offer extra rooms or adaptable spaces, reflecting a broader trend toward versatility in home design. 76% of renters seek apartments with a dedicated home office or flex space, highlighting the shift towards home-based work environments. Micro-units become a less practical option for the resident who works from home. 

The WFH renter also values homes that emphasize soundproofing and reliable high-speed internet, essential for productivity and professional video conferencing.

The integration of coworking spaces within multifamily development has also become a significant draw. Including professionally managed coworking spaces in residential buildings could increase property values by up to 12%, as these amenities directly respond to the evolving work habits of residents. Furthermore, coworking operators often serve as a model for integrating smart technologies and cutting-edge security features, such as smart access, into their designs.

In response to these demands, developers and property managers are rethinking multifamily housing design. 

Operational Implications 

The operational aspects of multifamily housing are also transforming. Property management practices are evolving to accommodate the needs of remote workers, including integrating smart technology for remote access to facilities, enhanced parcel management systems to handle increased deliveries, and virtual leasing processes. 

Moreover, the rise of remote work challenges multifamily housing operators to maintain high levels of resident satisfaction and engagement, necessitating innovative approaches to virtual community building and providing responsive, flexible maintenance services that respect the home as a workplace.

In addition to adapting physical spaces and services for the remote work era, multifamily housing operators increasingly recognize the importance of integrating flexible financial programs for renters. Programs such as “Rent Now, Pay Later,” security deposit alternative programs, and flexible lease terms address a critical aspect of resident needs: financial flexibility and security. 

The economic uncertainty spurred by global events, alongside the fluctuating nature of the gig economy where many remote workers may find themselves, has heightened the demand for such financial accommodations. These programs provide renters with much-needed breathing room in managing their cash flow and reflect a deeper understanding and responsiveness to the economic realities facing today’s workforce.

Remote Work Reshaping Multifamily Housing

The rise of remote work has fundamentally transformed the multifamily housing sector, shifting towards more adaptable, technology-equipped living spaces and changing residential preferences from urban to suburban areas. 

As the industry adapts, multifamily operators and developers are innovating to meet the demands of a remote workforce, emphasizing flexible living designs, advanced technological integration, and financial programs that cater to modern economic needs. This evolution is not just about responding to the current trends but setting the stage for a future where homes blend seamlessly with work-life, fostering communities prioritizing connectivity, flexibility, and well-being.


Kasee Godwin

Position: Director of Marketing
Social Networks

Kasee is the Director of Marketing for Qira. She has nearly 15 years of experience in the real estate marketing industry, including 10 years on the client side. In her spare time, she enjoys reading science fiction, exploring new wineries, and fostering Golden Retrievers.

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