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  • Writer's pictureEdwin and George

The Future of Work – and Living?

Updated: Sep 11, 2022

Hybrid working has lots of advantages – and at EGM we fully back the hybrid working model.

But there’s a big problem – that can hit younger workers, in particular.

In one of the most startling findings following the pandemic, young people (those aged between 16-30) are recording higher levels of loneliness than the elderly.

  • There’s a lack of connection with colleagues at work – and its not only the absence of human connection – it’s also the quality.

  • Gone are the chats in the office kitchen, the catch up in the staff room - and the trip to the pub at the end of the day.

An entire generation could be facing a career where they don’t have the network of contacts that builds over time.

Recent research finds:

  • 61% of young workers don’t socialise with their co-workers outside of work

  • 44% don’t have a true friend at work

  • 43% don’t feel a sense of connection to co-workers

  • 38% don’t trust their co-workers

  • 22% don’t have even one friend at work. (Forbes.)

But it’s not just at work the younger generation are finding life harder.

On 6th July 2022, ‘The Guardian’ reported:

‘In Australia, the likelihood of attaining home ownership by age 30 has fallen substantially. Since the 1970s, first-home buyer average age has risen by six years to 32 – almost doubling the number of years between reaching adulthood and reaching home ownership.’

And during the pandemic new homes built for first time buyers dropped by 6%.

  • Traditionally, the model has been to own your own home - typically with the ad of a multi-decade mortgage – located near to your employer.

  • With interest rates rising and economic uncertainty, the model facing young people today is to rent an apartment. But this can be a soulless experience – particularly those starting out in a big city. And then there’s the prospect of paying rent – and ending up owning no equity in the property.

But there’s an interesting development that’s gathering pace.

Adam Neumann is best known for founding We Work – the company that was valued one day at $47 billion – and the next day at zero – has set out to change the way the younger generation live – and there are plenty who believe he can achieve his mission. Neumann has just received the largest investment ever by a venture capital company (US$350 million.)

Neumann previously rented office space – where pool tables and beer came as part of the package. WeWork brought flexibility to companies and individuals alike – with young professionals renting desks, plugging in their Macs, and working in a ‘communal’ type environment. Although the company went bust and was bought out, there are still 700 WeWork offices in big cities.

In a recent interview, Neumann says, ‘I call the current generation the R-Generation – as they have to rent.’

  • Neumann has spent millions of dollars of his own money buying up apartment blocks in Miami and Nashville – seeing the opportunity to build communities of young people. Individuals can take a room or an apartment – and although the one-page web site of Neumann’s new company, Flow, gives no details, it’s thought that the deal will include equity in the properties.

The accommodation deal comes with the latest technology – including dedicated apps so people can get the most out of the community. Add to that music rooms for ‘jam sessions,’ a bark park for dogs, an outdoor cinema, gyms and a ‘bumpy lawn area.’ (Whatever that is).

Prior to the demise of WeWork, Neumann had toyed with the idea of WeLive – buying two apartment blocks – one in Washington and one in Wall Street.

In the video ‘Millennials Are Paying to Live in Shares Spaces Like WeLive,’ young people describe how they lived in a WeLive apartment - where everything is provided (including stocked cabinets of food) – before going off to work in a WeWork office.

One young professional is quoted as saying the only time during the day when he is outside his WeLive or WeWork community is when commuting the short distance between the two.

Marc Anderssen (the venture capitalist backing the idea) recently wrote in his blog about how the most dynamic cities are pricing out young talent – and the difficulties young people are facing with loneliness with little interaction with their neighbors. ‘Only a seismic shift will solve these problems.’

The original WeLive operation has been closed.

However, the new venture is already valued at US$1 billion – and is gathering pace.

Perhaps community living – and working – are the future?

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