As of May 2023, 11.9% of full-time employees in the United States were exclusively working from home. Another 29.4% were working in hybrid models. 

Upwork estimates that by 2025, an estimated 32.6 million Americans will be working remotely, equivalent to roughly 22% of the workforce. 

The numbers don’t lie. Remote work is here to stay. 

So what does this mean for the multifamily industry? It means residents will continue to need more places where they can comfortably and efficiently conduct business.

Chicago is no exception. Tamina Sheikh, senior regional property manager at Chicago’s Lincoln Property Company, says, “In my properties, we see a revolving door in common spaces. It’s not the same people every single day, but I would say, on any given day, it’s about 20 - 30% of the property that is working from home.”

To cope with this increased demand for remote work space, multifamily property residents have started getting creative with where they conduct business (think golf simulators and mail rooms). This is forcing properties to create flexible communal spaces that are comfortable for both work and recreation.

According to Sheikh, “I think it’s still very important to have robust amenity offerings, but it’s also crucial to think through how somebody might work from each of those individualized spaces. Because they will.”

How exactly are properties making existing amenity spaces flexible? Here are three examples: 

  • Replacing high bar stools in a game room with comfortable work seating.
  • Adding additional shade at the pool.
  • Complementing communal space lounge chairs with cozy up tables.

As a more permanent solution to the need for dedicated coworking spaces, many properties are investing in full retrofits of outdated business centers or underutilized amenity spaces (theaters are a common one).

If a retrofit is in your future, consider these key investments as you build your budget: 

  • Seating - Comfortable enough to use for an entire work day. Arranged in a way that gives people a sense of privacy, where they aren’t having to stare directly at other people trying to work.
  • Ample Lighting
  • Elevated Aesthetics/Vibe - Artwork. Live plants. Pleasant smells. Comfortable temperature.
  • Technology - Community-wide Wi-Fi. Plug-and-play monitors. Keyboards. Laptop stands. Presentation screen. Wireless Printer. Electronic whiteboard. Access control.
  • Break Essentials - Speakers. Mini fridge. Water cooler. Coffee Machine. Paid pantry / vending machine.
  • Outlets - Integrated into the furniture or installed in the walls.

Thoughtful FF&E and design aesthetics are critical in creating great coworking spaces, but technology is, frankly, non-negotiable. Where is your money best spent? Here are four smart investments:

  • Seamless Wi-Fi - Simply stated, you must have Wi-Fi connectivity that extends seamlessly across your community. Remote workers expect to be able to work from anywhere in their community - even outside dedicated coworking spaces. 
  • Reservation Platforms - Especially if your dedicated coworking space is limited, it’s important to implement access control so all of your residents have an equitable way to gain access to it.
  • Coffee Machines and Pantries - Innovative coffee machines and carefully curated pantry services combine the convenience of a traditional break room with the experience of a coffee shop. Plus, they can be enjoyed by all your residents - not just remote workers. Look for solutions that are designed to curb excessive consumption and outsource support.
  • Printers - The Wall Street Journal recently named a printer the #1 amenity in multifamily, recognizing that “no one wants a printer, but everyone wants to print.” That assessment is not wrong. Workers still need access to staple communal resources, like printers. Find a self-serve solution that takes the burden of printing and troubleshooting off your staff and makes budgeting easy.

To help reduce the burden of vendor management, it’s advantageous to work with platform companies that offer multiple solutions. 

WithMe falls into that category, offering elevated printing and coffee amenities with perks for residents and on-site teams.  

PrintWithMe’s all-inclusive packages make budgeting easy, while outsourced technical support and auto-shipped supplies reduce the burden on property management teams. Residents love having 24/7 access to reliable printing and live support if they ever run into issues. It’s been a huge hit at The Paragon in South Loop.

SipWithMe also boasts budget-friendly, all-inclusive pricing and outsourced technical support. Residents love being able to order 20+ roast-to-order beverages in the comfort of their own building.. Not only has SipWithMe helped to elevate the resident experience at 6 Class A properties in Chicago, it’s also reduced their coffee expenses by 49%!

When you’re ready to invest in elevated printer and coffee amenities for your remote workers (and the rest of your deserving residents), click here to schedule a conversation with us!