By Joe Vacarro, CEO of OHBA

The pandemic has changed us all.
What does this new reality mean for the industry?

As we move forward, it’s clear that the pandemic has changed us—publicly, personally and professionally.

Publicly, we are far more aware of the outdoor spaces we engage with. The use of parks, trails and public facilities has accelerated over the course of the stay-at-home and lock-down orders, putting them under more stress than they were designed for. The interest and investment in these public spaces is now top of mind for all governments as people look for an escape from the closed quarters of home. 

And let us not forget how people are interacting in theses public spaces—cautious and mindful of distancing from others. As community builders, providing and designing public spaces in the post-pandemic world will take on an even greater focus. 

One of the many impacts may be a desire
for their own space as soon as possible.

Professionally, the world of work has also changed for many. Essential workers have continued to provide services, but with COVID protocols to provide them with a safe environment. As we move out of the pandemic, many of these changes are likely to continue, and some may become standard practice for these industries. 

The provincial government quickly recognized that residential construction was an essential service, and with that the industry continued to work under new protocols. 

Beyond the jobsites themselves, sales offices, corporate facilities, law firms and the long list of professional services also continuously evolved in order to keep working and deliver keys to homeowners across Ontario. Working from home became routine, and the need for technology to keep everyone connected and productive increased.  

It’s likely that some of this will remain the norm, with many homes doubling as offices, boardrooms and meeting spaces. While the process has already begun for many, home builders will need to consider this hybrid model as they bring new designs to the market. And renovator members will continue to be on call as people rediscover and reimagine their homes.

Personally, we have also been changed by the COVID experience.  It has, at least for the time being, signalled an end to handshakes and communal eating among many friends and associates. The intense shared living experience of parents, children and sibling has provided us with more time together than any generation in the past 40 years. We’ve been through a year where high school and university students have been learning from home, with no social escape from their parental units. 

One of the impacts of the latter may be that generation’s desire for their own space as soon as possible, so they can have some control over their domain. 

All of which comes back to the demand for housing supply and choice across Ontario communities. 

Some things don’t change