Bankwest’s Home Truths Report has revealed the global pandemic has resulted in a significant shift in WA homebuying preferences that support the removal of barriers to women’s participation in the workplace.
Bankwest’s Home Truths survey collected responses from more than 1700 Australians, with a focus on WA, to better understand the needs, preferences, and attitudes of the homebuyers of today and tomorrow.
The data revealed the pandemic management phase marked a paradigm shift in housing preferences, with almost half (44%) of WA respondents saying working from home had changed what they desired in an ideal property.
That number was higher for WA’s Millennials and Gen Zs – the current and next generation of homebuyers – with 50 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively, saying the impacts of the pandemic had changed their preferences.
A quarter (25%) of Western Australians surveyed said they worked from home at least once a week, with half (50%) confirming the pandemic led to an increase in performing their role remotely.
The shift in the accepted social norms of flexible working triggered by the pandemic, in turn, changed what Western Australians consider as important home features, with nine-in-10 (91%) looking for more space/rooms.
A dedicated study/home office was the feature that has become most desirable as a result of the pandemic, with 53 per cent of respondents labelling it important, while 34 per cent said it was the most important consideration.
The data also revealed significant differences in the impact of COVID on the housing preferences and working patterns of Australian men and women, with more of the latter working from home and desiring more space.
More than a quarter (27%) of WA’s women reported working from home at least once a week, with more than half (54%) saying that increased due to COVID, compared to 22 per cent and 47 per cent of men, respectively.
The largest difference was in what feature was more important, with women nationally calling out a dedicated study/home office as important at a significantly higher rate than men – 47 per cent compared to 30 per cent.
The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre-Workplace Gender Equality Agency (BCEC-WGEA) annual Gender Equity Insights report repeatedly highlights the significance of flexible working to women’s participation in the workplace.
The Home Truths data confirmed the COVID-triggered shift in flexible working culture had resulted in more women working from home, potentially enabling more women to remain in or enter the workplace and progress careers.
Bankwest General Manager Homebuying Peter Bouhlas said: “Western Australians have shown incredible resilience throughout the global pandemic, consistently adapting to manage constantly changing conditions.
“These Home Truths insights suggest those changes have also extended to people’s housing preferences in response to a broader acceptance of flexible working arrangements due to pandemic health measures.
“Increased requirements to work from home likely exposed the inadequacies of many houses to function as a fulltime office, simply because our properties weren’t designed to be offices.
“Flexible working has become more broadly accepted due to COVID and this data shows more people are working flexibly, so it makes sense that more of us are considering and prioritising features that better enable us to do that.
“We also know how important a positive flexible working culture is to enabling women to participate in the workplace, and these figures show that more women have adopted flexible working following the pandemic.”