2020 has reoriented our lives in spectacular ways, and foremost our relationship with space. From keeping strangers at two-arm lengths away to being restricted to our homes for extended periods of time, this year has been remarkable in how adaptable we have been as a society. As furnished housing specialists, we’ve seen our guests increasingly experiencing their homes in novel ways with the surge of acronyms like “SIP” (shelter-in-place) and “WFH” (work from home) as a reflection of their ‘new normal.’ Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities. At Blueground, we acknowledge that the businesses that understand and react to these changing consumer needs will emerge stronger from this extraordinary crisis. Though physically distant, we saw an opportunity to use the time to get close to our guests and to lend an ear in order to learn how we can better cater our product and experiences offered. Over the course of this prolonged global pandemic, we undertook our most robust research initiative, in which we analyzed the very concept of home. We reached out to every one of our guests in each of our cities around the world, asking them how they’re coping with more time at home, what’s changed in terms of their needs and what is their view on the future. Here are the salient takeaways of our “At-Home Pandemic Experience” survey:

Anxiety Levels at Home

COVID-19 has destabilized our lives in exceptional ways (health, job stability, and routine changes, for starters). As such, nearly half (48%) of our guests reported feeling greater anxiety in their new normal. In the US & Middle East, the majority of respondents said they feel more anxious, while in Europe things are a bit more relaxed with nearly 1 in 5 (19%) reporting they’re calmer at home. 

But where does this anxiety stem from? With a myriad of new elements introduced into daily live, we broke it down:

  1. Changes in lifestyle, leading to feelings of boredom, loneliness, etc. (39%)
  2. Work-related stress, stemming from jobs or lack thereof, workload, managers, etc. (25%)
  3. News & the media, due to oversaturation of tough topics (14%)
  4. Family, including conversations & differing points of view, and going through this time without them (12%)

Surprisingly only 4% of guests reported being stressed by their partners & friends, which perhaps might indicate that personal relationships are thriving at home (which we’ll explore a bit more below).

#BluegroundByte to tackle rising anxiety levels

Schedule exercise, meditation, reading and music into your week while you continue to monitor your mental health 

 

Productivity at Home

When surveying our guests on their ‘work from home’ habits, we weren’t simply curious about the hours at their desk, but also how they scored their output. When looking at Blueground’s guests altogether, over half (66%) are working at least as much, if not more, at home than they were previously at the office. And while you might think that working at home would spur productivity, close to a quarter of our guests globally (24%) reported getting less done each day than before being confined to their apartments. Europe-based guests seemed to maintain the most productivity, with 62% getting the same, if not more, done each day during their WFH time. On the flip side, in the Middle East, almost 63% of our Dubai guests report that they’re getting the same or less done, although they’re working much more.

work desk beside a fireplace with TV on mantel

#BluegroundByte to beat the WFH slump

Log off at the same time as you’d leave the office, set ground rules, write out a to-do list every morning, and take at least one midday wellness break

 

Passing Time at Home

Hobbies new and old have come out of the quarantine woodwork. A bird’s eye view of our 500 respondents found the following trends in filling their day.

  • Zooming in and out: By far, the #1 activity our global guests are doing a lot more of these days is video chatting, with 82% relying on virtual meet-ups much more than before — from work meetings to religious services to online dating.
  • Streaming & scrolling: When we’re not talking into a screen, we’re simply staring into it for an entertainment escape. Approximately 55% – 63% of our guests are spending more time absorbed in multimedia whether catching up on the headlines or a series.
  • Connecting with loved ones: To combat the loneliness & stress of lockdown, our guests are talking to family and friends more – which 60% of our guests report greater uptake.
  • Mastering cooking skills: 43% of our guests are spending more time in the kitchen, despite grocery shopping being a key activity that our guests (1 out of every 3) find themselves doing less of.
  • Taking a break from exercise: While unsurprisingly nearly 70% of guests are doing a lot less outdoor exercise, nearly 50% of our global guests also reported a decrease in indoor exercise too.
#BluegroundByte to unwind to the fullest

Don’t lose track or momentum — a firm schedule or accountability in the form of signing up for a course, or doing an activity with a friend will keep you regimented 

 

Getting Along at Home

Spending more time at home often equates to spending more time with our loved ones – whether they be family, roommates or a significant other. About 1 in 2 guests found themselves living with someone else during the peak of the pandemic, but how does that impact the relationship? Anecdotally, US-based family attorneys are reporting an uptick in divorce inquiries since lockdown. Though according to our research, approximately one-fourth of guests claimed to have experienced no real change in relationship with the person they were staying with. In fact, 13% said their relationships actually improved during quarantine – a testament to bonding together during uncertain times. It doesn’t stop with our human relations — one-third of our guests expressed a desire to have a pet with them while self isolating, while 10% of our guests reported moving in with a pet from the get-go.

#BluegroundByte for nurturing relationships

Set up routines with your co-habitants, remember to be patient, learn to forgive and practice kindness

 

The Future Outlook from Home

One of the many things we’re keen to understand is “what comes next?” – how does life change as we spend more time in our homes, away from our communities, from travel and from the workplace? Prior to the pandemic, well over half (62%) of our guests were traveling over 6 times a year. While recent events have left 44% of worldwide guests more worried about the future, kudos goes to the near third who are trying to stay hopeful about returning back to the ‘normal life’ they once knew. The largest proportions of optimistic guests were found in our European cities (40%) and in Dubai (nearly 30%), while in the U.S., 37% of our guests reported feeling hopeful for tomorrow and another 14% remained unfazed in their outlook. Let’s continue to keep our eyes on the horizon!

#BluegroundByte to seeing the glass half-full

Try limiting your news alert intake, practice gratitude journaling and be open with yourself and confidants about your fears

king bed with tufted headboard in evening sun

Blueground’s most robust guest experience survey to date has shed light on how we’re able to adapt to more time living and working at home. From reaching out to our guests under quarantine, we learned a great amount about what’s changed and what has remained the same in domains from their mental health to future outlook, on their work productivity levels and the ways they unwind. Surprising findings, like San Francisco being the only of our U.S. cities with a proportion above our global average reporting lower levels of anxiety, were met with some validated observations such as video chatting and cooking being the two most practiced pastimes.

With this data, Blueground is continuing to evolve its furnished housing experience by outfitting our newest homes with work desks, adapting our maintenance and support to contactless forms and adding a roster of brand partnerships that allow our guests to enjoy their furnished home to the fullest. When it comes to your next move within the same city, or an inspired stay in the remote work era, Blueground will be there to make you feel at home from day one. Settle in for the long term in a turnkey home that allows you to get the most out of more time at home!

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