News: Knight Frank: Future Singapore homes might be “homework” ready

Sep 24, 2020

According to Knight Frank, “the typical private residential condominium home might begin to undergo some evolution in form and function to incorporate ideas and concepts that first began with SOHO units in Singapore, should WFH become permanent in a post-COVID-19 world”. 

The circuit breaker imposed in April – which saw companies adopting the “work from home” (WFH) scheme – caught most Singaporeans by surprise, leaving many little time to plan and prepare the home space for office space.

Making do with what was available, many struggled to manage household space.

However, according to Knight Frank’s research, “Homework,” which discusses the impact of the pandemic on residential spaces as working from home (WFH) became the norm, the concept of using one’s home for work has been around for more than 15 years in Singapore.

“Some 10 years ago, private residential apartments in Singapore that were marketed as SOHO (Small Office Home Office) units were popular. These non-landed homes were conceptualised for homebuyers and occupiers who intended to use their homes for work activity, as the evolution of information technology (IT) and the Internet-of-Things (IoTs) made the possibility of working from home viable with remote access to clients, colleagues and service providers,” it said in a report.

The SOHO units proved to be popular from 2011 to 2013, with 500 transactions posted in 2011, showed caveats from the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV) Realink portal.

Transactions for such units peaked in 2012 as 1,300 SOHO units were transacted. In 2013, transactions for SOHO units dropped to 400. Thereafter, no more caveats for SOHO were listed.

Fast forward to 2020, Knight Frank does not expect to see a resurgence of developments marketed as SOHO units.

Suggested read: Struggling to WFH? For Some Young Adults, Renting Is The Answer

“Nonetheless, the typical private residential condominium home might begin to undergo some evolution in form and function to incorporate ideas and concepts that first began with SOHO units in Singapore, should WFH become permanent in a post-COVID-19 world,” it said.

A survey by human resource analytics software company EngageRocket showed that most employees do not feel safe returning to work post-circuit breaker.

The survey, which polled some 28,000 employees, found that 84% of respondents prefer to work from home at least 50% of work hours.

The survey also noted increased productivity among employees between April (the start of circuit breaker) and June (the end of circuit breaker).

About 23% of respondents indicated that they were more productive working from home in June, up from 15% in April.

And as the Singapore government encourage companies to make WFH as the default mode in the next few months, “some are convinced that WFH is here to stay”.

With this, Knight Frank said private residential projects can evolve into a “homework” ready development by transforming some of its common shared facilities into a small business centre “where coin-operated or cash/flash card-operated self-serviced printers and facsimiles can be provided, similar to but not as opulent as that of business hotels and serviced residences”.

“In an age where documents are distributed electronically and where email has made faxing largely redundant, homeowners might not want to clutter their homes with these machines,” noted that report.

“However, every once in a while, there will be a need to print or fax documents, and the provision of such equipment will facilitate WFH from condominium developments.”

Reading rooms and function rooms at condominium can also be designed and equipped to be more flexible in function.

“Study pods with power sockets can be installed in reading rooms, serving all manner of residents – those reading their newspapers, students quietly studying, and workers working with a laptop when they need to get away from the household unit,” said Knight Frank.

“Rooms with audio-visual (AV) equipment that function as a KTV room for residents’ recreation in the evenings and on weekends might be used as a conference room for small-scale meetings during office hours, where the AV equipment can be utilised for teleconferencing with colleagues, clients and vendors both locally and globally.”

Residents can book and use such facilities just as they would for KTV rooms or tennis courts.

“A fee could be charged for the usage of these facilities, or else, it could be built into the condominium’s service charge regime depending on decisions made by the residents themselves at general meetings,” added the report.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg

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