If the global outbreak of Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that people need communities.
Just as we have started to enjoy a return to a semblance of normality, global events show that we might be facing a potential second wave, with continued periods of uncertainty and lockdowns. This makes it all the more important that we focus on providing safe and supportive spaces to live.
Facing the ‘New Normal’
Since the beginning of lockdown, many of us have been forced to work from home. For most young professionals, this sudden change in lifestyle came as a shock and brought new challenges.
One of the biggest difficulties was separating work life from home life. This was especially hard for those in flatshare rentals with a lack of space and limited flexibility, while those living alone, without daily face-to-face interaction, experienced months in isolation.
Understandably, many do not believe they can continue like this in the long term, and so are making preparations to protect themselves in case of the renewed restrictions a second wave would bring.
A co-living evolution
Contrary to those who say Covid-19 could be the end of co-living, we at Vonder are seeing high demand from young professionals looking for a safe, flexible and social rental experience. And so, even as the economy faces a bumpy road, we’ve just launched our latest luxury London location, Vonder Shoreditch, as an addition to our current locations, including Vonder Hill and Vonder Village.
Our co-living schemes allow people to live in large, independent, luxurious apartments, while working in separate spacious co-working areas in the same building. Round the clock cleaning, hygiene and health checks are standard, shared communal areas and amenities are included and tenants belong to a true active and supportive community.
This evolution in co-living is wanted now more than ever, so what should those in the sector do to adapt to the shifting environment and meet this ‘new normal’ demand?
Let’s get rid of micro-apartments. If people are going to be spending most of their time at home for the foreseeable, spacious, stylish and well-designed independent living spaces must be provided. The growth of the co-living model should also be sustained organically, based on demand, rather than fueled artificially through massive funding rounds.
Tenants should be provided with a built-in community and support team to offer help and advice when settling in and integrating. We see the ‘co’ in co-living as referring to community experience, curated content and connection to people, not ‘co’mmunal living. Our 9.5 month average stay has helped us to heighten the focus on building a community to reduce isolation at times like these, driven by a regular and diverse programme of off-and-online events to encourage safe socialising.
Tenants need help to better separate home from work. Hassle-free living should be the focus, with all features and amenities (concierge service, co-working spaces, cinema, garden) provided on-site and under one bill, so there is no need to leave the building unless absolutely necessary.
The sector must also prioritise 24/7 cleaning and strict commitment to hygiene and safety. Tenants must feel this is the safest and most secure place to live and work right now.
These are uncertain times for everybody, personally and professionally. Adapting to customer needs with flexible rental arrangements must be a priority.
Rather than spelling the end, co-living has real potential to offer a genuine solution to meet consumer demands of the day. But changes have to made if you want to truly deliver the customer experience and value required.
Tomer Bercoviz is chief executive of residential consultant and co-living specialist Vonder Europe
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