While most of us undoubtedly suffered the isolation (and COVID kilos 🤭) of being stuck indoors for months on end, many believe it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change things for the better. History has shown that major world events such as the Great Depression, the World Wars and recessions created enormous and lasting societal shifts — and COVID-19 is set to be the same. We can’t go back to normal now. But how exactly will life as we know it change?
Confined to our houses, we’ve become more conscious of comfort than ever before. We’ve also become aware of the reality and practicality of shared spaces — particularly for those who work from home and will continue to do so partially or exclusively moving forward.
We want our spaces to be comfortable and functional, but we also want them to be playful and relaxing. We need quiet nooks to knuckle down on the laptop as well as social spaces to share precious time with family and entertain friends.
Stuck in COVID-19 quarantine — some working, some not, most of us penny-pinching and a little panicked — we’ve had a lot of time to think about how our home lives need to change and where we were wasting space and resources before. There’s never been a greater need for our homes to be a one-stop-shop for, well… the entire life package.
For a start, with board meetings on computer screens and no need for the daily commute, personal values are moving away from the flashy car and wardrobe full of designer suits to spending on more relevant purchases in the post-pandemic, work-from-home world.
Multifunctional spaces, clever storage and smart devices have quickly soared to the top of the priority list. Studies are showing that the biggest expected long-lasting shift will be in homes transforming into comfortable and functional places. Not just end-of-day spaces to unwind and sleep, homes are transforming into all-day offices, lecture halls, classrooms, cross-fit studios and personal sanctuaries. As such, living spaces are expanding like never before… but on a multifunctional level, rather than in square footage.
The isolation period won’t last forever, but it’s certainly got us all thinking about the practicality of being more self-sufficient in the home, being more time-savvy without the daily commute and the importance of spending more time with family.
From working the team to working out, doing it from home is the new norm. Having a home office has shifted from luxury to necessity. Back-to-back Zoom meetings and exhausting virtual juggling of emails and spreadsheets has brought new life to the ‘work hard, play hard’ mantra. Who would have thought the WFH life could be so tiring!
People are upsizing their sofas, extending the deck, buying more yoga pants and exercise bikes to upsize their downtime. Money that was earmarked for the annual trip to Bali is being rerouted into ‘staycay’ home updates, like clawfoot bath tubs, kitchens for greater culinary creations, sliding glass doors uniting interior and exterior spaces… in essence, making the home a personal paradise.
Australians have been shaken by world events and natural disasters. More than ever before, we’re all looking to lighten our carbon footprint with more natural, sustainable and locally sourced commodities. Architectural design is experiencing a clear shift in exploring more eco-friendly options as the nation looks for better ways to tackle the climate change crisis and minimise waste.
Emotional health and wellbeing, too, are being nurtured more freely, as lockdown has made people realise the importance of self-care. Many have started packing away the muffins and merlot in favour of mindfulness apps, yoga subscriptions and mood-boosting home-grown herbs and veggies.
Living in confined spaces with partners, toddlers, in-laws and teens, we’ve had to learn how to operate more smoothly as a household unit, practising patience, kindness and routine. If there’s a silver lining in 2020’s events, it’s the better bonds, better communication, household collaborations and increased kindness that we’ve had to cultivate almost overnight.
Additionally, with less need to attend inner-city boardroom meetings, a gentle shift is occurring in the real estate market. People are gaining the freedom to reside where they want. Where once the dream of living in the country or a quiet coastal town was on hold until retirement, the remote-working lifestyle is making it a reality.
There’s no denying the fact that the world as we knew it has changed, yet in the darkness, there’s opportunity to reinvent our lives. Who knows how long it will take for these necessary changes to really start feeling normal… all we can do is look for the positive, show kindness to ourselves and others, and create comfortable and functional spaces to work, rest and be more self-sufficient in the post-pandemic world.
What do you like about the cultural shift? We’d love to read your comments below.