Across the United States, schools and businesses have shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But instead of hunkering down on the couch and binge-watching sitcoms, many Americans are learning at home, hanging out with friends online and working out or working from home while practicing social distancing and sheltering in place.
From virtual wine tastings to online workouts, digital amenities have become the silver lining in home confinement, and multifamily communities are stepping up to the plate.
For instance, The Cooper at Southbank, the first residential tower in Chicago developed by Lendlease, a leading international property and infrastructure group, is offering virtual fitness classes through its vendor, Elevated Living.
The same instructors that have been training residents at The Cooper’s fitness center are now streaming yoga, total body HIIT, Pilates, kickboxing and Zumba workouts via Zoom, all of which can be done from home.
Virtual workouts not only offer residents of The Cooper a healthy outlet, but they also provide a much-needed opportunity for socialization with neighbors and friends. The Cooper plans to expand its online amenity suite to potentially include a virtual trivia night, virtual cooking classes and a virtual classroom workshop for children.
Michael Fazio, chief creative officer of LIVunLtd, New York City’s largest luxury concierge and amenity management company, said his team has come up with ways to connect residents at 525 West 52nd Street, despite them not being together physically.
The firm is offering free virtual meditation and fitness classes plus fee-based one-on-one sessions with personal trainers and nutritionists at the luxury rental development on the West Side of Manhattan.
The LIVunLtd team is reimagining its book club to become virtual in order to keep the community of readers engaged. By reading books, many people find that they can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world.
Here are other programs LIVunLtd is working on across other properties, including 277 Fifth Avenue:
Keeping entertained: Publishing the “Concierge Guide To Virtual Living,” which includes everything from virtual dinner parties to virtual tours of museums to virtual language classes to virtual cooking classes and wine tasting.
Keeping sanity with your spouse/partner: Counseling psychologist Dr. Debbie Magids will conduct segments about relationships and how to manage being together 24/7. Other topics will include dating during the COVID-19 crisis and best practices on supporting friends, mates and family during a crisis.
Keeping productive: Executive career coach and author Roy Cohen will be doing segments on how to maximize productivity when working from home and tips on what to do with your job search during these difficult times.
Keeping fit: The focus will be on everything from yoga to boot camp to meditation and even nutritional coaching, including what to buy and eat and what to avoid.
Under consideration are virtual classes tailored to residents’ interests such as arts and crafts lessons and organization tips.
Don’t forget the kids
Time Equities’ 50 West, a luxury condo tower in Lower Manhattan, just launched virtual amenities such as fitness classes, virtual personal training and online kids classes. The customized amenities have been made available by Axiom Amenities.
The building is also distributing craft packages for kids to do artwork at home. 50 West has retained all of its fitness instructors and other amenity staffers to work on virtual community-building, health and entertainment programs while the building’s physical amenities are shut down.
Caydon, an Australian-based lifestyle and property developer, is consistently in touch with residents at Drewery Place in Houston through its resident portal, Caydon HQ. The firm has postponed community events and is launching online games and live online workouts to keep residents entertained and active.
The pandemic is nudging employers to be more accepting of remote work and flexible schedules. Instead of traveling to the office, many employees are plugging in to meetings and engaging with co-workers or clients from the comfort of their homes.
BestPlaces.net partnered with Intel on a study to look at the savings that can accrue if only half of a metro area’s workforce worked from home just one day a week. Besides the benefit of suppressing infection, even occasional telecommuting can provide huge positive impacts on personal and municipal transportation costs, time saved and even the environment.
The Washington, D.C., metro area showed the greatest potential savings from telecommuting. It has one of the highest percentages of white-collar workers in the study, plus the daily commute is one of the most time-consuming and costly in the United States.
A single D.C. office worker who teleworks just one day each week can see savings of $488 in transportation costs and $2,708 in time saved each year. If only one-half of the area’s office workforce teleworked just one day each week, BestPlaces.net estimates local annual savings of $177 million in personal transportation costs (including 38 million gallons of gasoline) and 21.8 million hours of time worth nearly $1 billion. The combined savings of the 80 metro areas in the study total over $30 billion annually.
“Our study highlights those places which have the greatest potential to benefit from telecommuting, said BestPlaces president Bert Sperling, adding: “Fuel prices, crowded highways, and security concerns all combine to make telecommuting increasingly important in today’s world.
Our analysis shows that working from home even one day a week can have a huge beneficial effect for the employees, companies and the entire community.”
Sperling pointed out, “This doesn’t even consider the savings for highway maintenance, new road construction and mass transit additions. Plus, there’s the advantage of reduced pollution, and congestion is reduced, thereby providing a benefit to those who are still commuting.”
Author Brenda Richardson, Forbes