Working from home is here to stay. The Coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented number of empty offices across Spain, with many employees being forced to work from home for more than a year. While some workers are now slowly beginning to go back to the office, it is highly unlikely that commercial spaces will be back at full capacity any time soon, if ever. So how will this impact on the Spanish property market?
In the current climate, growing numbers of businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to justify the cost of renting an office space. Tens of thousands of small business owners who don`t need a shopfront have chosen to close their doors for good.
Many companies have rapidly scaled up their remote working capabilities and workers are beginning to realise the savings they can make when an office commute is taken out of the equation. For some people, working from home may become a permanent lifestyle change.
A new way of working
As a consequence, households have had to accommodate this new way of working. We have become adept at identifying potential new workspaces or ensuring there is extra space for a home office when looking to move home. Over the past year, kitchen tables have born the weight of multiple laptops due to either one or two adults working from home and, in some cases, children learning from home. Offices can now be found in the likes of kitchens, spare rooms, hallways, alcoves, garages and sheds – anywhere that might offer some peace and privacy.
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Research suggests that the longer the health crisis forces many of us to work remotely, the more businesses are creating ‘work from home’ policies and, as employees become more productive and see the benefits of working away from the office, the more we will want to continue doing so once the pandemic is over.
Homes in the post-Covid era
Evidently, the need for home office space is impacting on what buyers are looking for in a property. The new home working trend is also affecting how sellers market their properties – and desk space can now be seen in most homes for sale as a sign to potential buyers that working from home is a possibility.
“We are asking sellers to showcase workspaces in their homes in preparation for visits,” comments Francisco Nathurmal, CEO of Bcn Advisors. ”Lots of people are deciding to sell because they have been working from home and will continue to do so and they need to upsize to accommodate this. And of course this is affecting property values. Properties with both office and outside space are at a premium, which is pushing prices up for this type of product. Buyers are also no longer putting proximity to the office as a priority· Not having to commute to work means that people now have more choice when it comes to deciding where they would like to live and they are able to explore different areas and types of homes.”
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Longer stays in second homes
Nathurmal points to another trend which is another interesting consequence of the remote working phenomenon.
“We’re seeing some foreign buyers looking for second homes where they are able to spend extended periods of time, rather than just a once or twice yearly holiday. They are looking for properties with homeworking space so that they can work from there at different times of the year. For those looking to work from home in Barcelona, it obviously gives them access to an amazing lifestyle at the same time.”
Spending more time at home has caused all of us to consider what we really want from our properties. The home working trend will leave its mark in terms of where people will live and the properties they choose to buy. With remote work likely here to stay, expect the property market to adapt accordingly.