AVA NoMa – Ensuring Work Areas Work Hard For Upscale Renters


November 29, 2018

They no longer relegate business centers to out-of-the-way nooks unlikely to be viewed on tours.

These days, almost everyone knows someone who telecommutes from home sweet home. That’s not surprising, considering the growth of the work-at-home movement. U.S. Census Bureau data indicate eight million American workers, representing 5.2 % of the workforce, worked from home in 2017 — an increase of 5 % from 2016.

The numbers are starker when factoring in those who work part of the time at home. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on an average day in 2017, 23 percent of workers spent some time working at home on days they worked. The more education they’d amassed, the more likely they were to work at home. Among those 25 and older with advanced degrees, 46.6 % spent some time working at home on days they worked.

This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by developers of new multifamily communities, who after all are likely to target better-educated, higher-earning professionals as residents. Many have grown increasingly creative in ways they integrate work areas into their structures. They no longer relegate business centers to out-of-the-way nooks unlikely to be viewed on tours. Today’s work areas – often featuring community tables, booths, lofts, huddle rooms and individual work stations – occupy prime real estate unlikely to be missed by prospective residents visiting properties for the very first time.

Here’s a small sampling of the movement, from two of America’s largest cities.


Open-and-shut case

At AVA NoMa, a 438-unit luxury rental tower in Washington, D.C.’s up-and-coming NoMa district, private work stations are connected to the main amenity space, but can be closed off through the use of sliding glass doors. As conjured up by KTGY Architecture + Planning’s Tyson office, the open-office, industrial-style aesthetic of the work area invites intimate meetings or larger gatherings.


A coffeehouse vibe

Developer Lendlease gives residents an array of alternatives at its 452-unit tower called The Cooper at Southbank in Chicago’s South Loop. On the amenity floor, residents can enjoy a coffeehouse ambience in the main lounge, featuring an open community table, booths, couches and bar tables. An adjacent kitchen offers coffee and other beverages. Within the reading room, residents can work on a couch or chair near a cozy fireplace.  Elsewhere, a pair of breakout rooms offers separation, if solitude is necessary.


Elevated work space

Appropriately enough, raised work stations are among the options atELEVATE Lincoln Park, a 191-unit tower on Chicago’s North Side. Those work stations are found in what would otherwise be underutilized space in a corner of the resident lounge. Developer Baker Development Corp. also placed a traditional conference room on the penthouse-level amenity floor, and outfitted the lounge with various table configurations.


Twice the choice

In Chicago’s ultra-hot River West area, Bond Companies’ and Morgan Holdings’ joint venture Morgan Bond Company recently unveiled a 363-unit apartment building called Spoke. Each of its two towers makes space available for home workers. The north tower offers a second-floor conference space. The south tower’s main lobby provides a work space steps from the concierge desk, but separated by a half wall and screen.


Built-in functionality

Hubbard Street Group developed HUBBARD221, a 125-unit luxury apartment tower in Chicago’s River North, to give residents a lofty 21st-floor work setting. It features a co-working hub and coffee bar that can be cordoned off from the adjacent entertainment room by means of an oversized sliding door.

If stats reported in Forbes in 2017 are any indication, it would behoove luxury apartment community developers to lavish greater time, effort, space and creativity on catering to the work-at-home trend.

In “The Growing Army of Workers Who Work From Home,” Forbes staff writer Karsten Strauss quoted FlexJobs senior career specialist Brie Reynolds as noting:

“56 % of U.S. employees have jobs that are telecommute-compatible – that’s up from 50 % the last time this data was looked at [in 2010].”