As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes further into the rearview mirror, the road ahead for residential construction and residential remodeling gets brighter.

The amount of time Americans spend at home is much higher than it was before 2019. And it becomes clearer every day that this shift is lasting. There will likely be some slight adjustments toward more time at the office, but work-from-home is also here to stay.

For example, the J.M. Smucker Company, based in Orrville, Ohio, near Akron, has implemented a novel arrangement. Smucker employees are required to be in the office for the same 22 weeks per year, five days a week. The other 30 weeks per year can be hybrid or, in some cases, fully remote. Some employees have homes as far away as San Francisco.

The amount of time spent at home can also vary by career stage. A younger person getting started in commercial lending at a big bank such as J.P. Morgan Chase might spend several years working five days per week in the office under the tutelage of seasoned professionals.

There are a number of occupations that initially require a physical daily presence. When those professionals earn their stripes and work in the office less frequently, they may choose homes a bit farther from job centers.

Others might stay put and choose homes near their offices but still require updates to accommodate more time at home. They want to be near family or for proximity to cultural hubs.

Meanwhile, huge shifts in the use of large office buildings have only just begun. As their long-term leases mature, large employers in cities nationwide are scaling back their office footprints.

A big employer that once leased 500,000 square feet in a downtown tower might now choose 200,000 square feet. This process, which is playing out from Charlotte to Spokane and everywhere in between, will take years to sort out.

Where will all those people be working? They’ll be working at home. Or they will be working at a WeWork location near home.

For the better part of the last 150 years, our homes have been designed for sleeping, eating and perhaps weekend gatherings. Now those same homes, more than 130 million of them, are places where people will be spending more time.

Some will undergo major remodeling projects to create better home offices. This is already happening, and data suggests there is much more to come. Most homes will not undergo major remodeling.

Instead, each one will be improved step-by-step. A garage attic gets insulation and heat for a new office. Then maybe the whole thing gets converted into a small dwelling unit for extended family and guests.

People will certainly be more fastidious about upkeep. Repairs to windows, roofs, etc., will continue apace. A new epoch of work and home life is here, and residential construction pros can expect to be very busy if they keep an eye on these emerging lifestyle trends. QR

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