Home Office Demand

The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed a seismic shift in the way we live and work, with remote work becoming the new normal for millions of professionals worldwide. As a result, the demand for home offices has skyrocketed, transforming the priorities of homebuyers and reshaping the real estate landscape. This article delves into the emerging trends, the impact on commercial real estate, and the future of work in the post-pandemic world.

The Numbers Tell the Story

A recent study, the What Home Buyers Really Want Study, has shed light on the growing importance of home offices in the real estate market. An astonishing 79% of homebuyers are now actively seeking properties with at least one dedicated home office space. Breaking down the numbers, 66% prefer a home with one office, 13% want two or more offices, and only 20% expressed no interest in a home office.

When it comes to size preferences, the majority (59%) are looking for a medium-sized office between 100-150 square feet. 22% prefer a large office over 150 sq ft, while 19% are content with a small office under 100 sq ft.

Generational and Income Differences

The demand for home offices varies across demographics. 90% of Gen Z buyers want at least one home office compared to 75% of Boomers, highlighting the shifting priorities of younger buyers. Income also plays a role – 92% of buyers earning over $150k annually want an office versus just 65% of those earning under $50k.

The numbers underscore the profound impact remote work is having on homebuyer preferences. Dedicated workspaces have moved from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’ for a significant majority of buyers.

The study also revealed interesting regional variations. In urban centers like New York City and San Francisco, where space comes at a premium, demand for home offices is particularly acute. Buyers in these markets are willing to trade off other amenities and even accept smaller living spaces to secure a dedicated workspace.

On the other hand, in suburban and rural areas, the abundance of space has led to a surge in demand for larger homes with multiple offices. Families are increasingly seeking properties that can accommodate two or more remote workers, often with separate spaces for adults and children.

The home office boom is reshaping the very concept of the ideal home. Buyers are re-evaluating their priorities, placing greater emphasis on functional spaces that support their work life and well-being.

The Evolving Commercial Real Estate Landscape

The rise of remote work has raised questions about the future of office space demand in the commercial real estate (CRE) sector. However, while telework has proven effective, a complete replacement of traditional offices is unlikely. Instead, a hybrid model blending remote and in-office work is expected to emerge.

Offices will still play a vital role, but their form and function will evolve. We anticipate more flexible layouts, a focus on collaboration spaces, and tech-enabled environments that bridge the gap between on-site and remote workers.

Developers will need to reimagine workplaces to accommodate the post-pandemic reality. Expect increased spacing between desks, expanded IT infrastructure, and new health and wellness amenities. The office as we know it is poised for transformation.

This shift presents both challenges and opportunities for the CRE sector. While overall demand for office space may decline, the need for high-quality, adaptable workspaces will increase. Landlords and developers who can provide flexible, tech-forward environments that support hybrid work models will be well-positioned to attract and retain tenants.

The key for CRE players is to be proactive and adaptable. Those who embrace change and innovate to meet the evolving needs of businesses will thrive in the post-pandemic landscape.

The Resurgence of Office Demand

Despite the WFH surge, signs point to a rebound in office space demand. The VTS Office Demand Index (VODI), which tracks office tours in core U.S. markets, recorded nine straight months of year-over-year growth. The Q1 national VODI now sits at 65% of pre-pandemic levels, signaling a significant recovery in leasing activity.

Declining WFH rates across major cities support this trend. After peaking in October 2023, WFH levels plummeted 31% from November 2023 to March 2024, suggesting a gradual return to the office.

However, this recovery is not uniform. A widening gap has emerged between more remote-friendly cities like Seattle and San Francisco and less remote-friendly ones such as New York and Los Angeles. From October 2020 to September 2023, this gap averaged 28%. In the last six months, it ballooned to 37%.

The data reveals a tale of two markets. Traditional business hubs like NY and LA are bouncing back faster, with near-normal demand in March. Tech-centric cities are lagging but showing promising signs of improvement.

This divergence reflects the varied pace of reopening across industries and regions. While finance, law, and other office-centric sectors have been quicker to bring workers back, tech companies have been more cautious, often embracing fully remote or hybrid models.

Nevertheless, even in tech-heavy markets, green shoots are emerging. Seattle, for example, saw a 38% jump in office demand in Q1 2024. While it’s too early to call it a trend, this uptick suggests that even the most remote-friendly cities are starting to see a return to the office.

The road to recovery may be longer for some markets, but the direction of travel is clear. As businesses and workers find their post-pandemic equilibrium, the office will remain a key part of the equation, even if its role evolves.

Home Office Demand

The Future of Work: Balancing Flexibility and Connection

As the dust settles on the pandemic-induced WFH experiment, a nuanced picture of the future of work is emerging. While remote work has proven viable, even beneficial, for many, it’s not a panacea.

Remote work offers undeniable benefits – flexibility, reduced commutes, and potential cost savings. But it also has drawbacks. Loss of spontaneous collaboration, isolation, and blurred work-life boundaries. The ideal solution for most businesses will be a hybrid model that balances the best of both worlds.

This balance will vary by industry, company, and even individual roles. Some may adopt a “remote-first” approach, with in-office days reserved for key meetings and events. Others may opt for a more structured split, with set days for remote and office work.

Regardless of the specifics, the common thread is a recognition that both remote and in-person work have value. Offices will continue to serve as hubs for collaboration, culture-building, and socializing, even as remote work provides flexibility and focus time.

The most successful organizations will be those that find the right blend of virtual and physical interaction, tailored to their unique needs and culture.

Home Office Demand


The surge in home office demand represents a profound shift in homebuyer priorities and a reshaping of the real estate industry. As remote and hybrid work models take hold, residential and commercial properties alike will need to adapt to the evolving needs of the post-pandemic workforce.

While the future remains fluid, one thing is clear: the way we live and work has been forever altered. Real estate professionals who understand and navigate these changes will be well-positioned to thrive in this new landscape.

For expert guidance on navigating the complexities of commercial real estate in these transformative times, consider reaching out to Mike Tolj. With over 18 years of experience and a track record of success, Mike is dedicated to helping business owners and landlords achieve their real estate goals. His deep market knowledge, adaptability, and client-centric approach make him an invaluable partner. Schedule a consultation with Mike today to position yourself for success in the new era of real estate.

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