If there is one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that we should always be prepared and open to change. Telecommuting and working from home, was widely adopted and opened the doors to new, more flexible lifestyles for employees around the world. For suburban towns and cities, this has transformed city life, buying habits and desires of residents.

It is not uncommon for many people to now be permanently working from home 2-3 days a week, if not entirely remotely. Having an office in your home changes commute times and allows for more flexibility for employers before, during and after their work day. Instead of leaving the office building for a walk or a bite to eat in the big city, employees are now searching for these amenities within their neighborhood or downtown in their community.

This opens up a new potential for retail opportunities to provide spaces for leisure and capture spending of remote workers. When considering opportunities it is important to focus on the local use cases, rather than creating something to attract people from other cities. It is also important to keep in mind the changing priorities of communities that have weathered the past few years. An emphasis on community and outdoor space are key to success.

We’ve learned just how important community is and should be reflected in the final product of commercial spaces in bedroom communities. Leveraging local talent when it comes to acquisition, construction, design, and leasing, is a great way to make yourself a part of the community while still accomplishing your goals. Using local knowledge from the start is a great way to make sure that you will be meeting the needs of your community with your new investment and provides reassurance that the end product will be useful.

In the last few years, we’ve also seen greenspaces and public spaces reprioritized. In large cities, these are common, often due to by-laws and requirements by the government. The same amenities can be harder to find in smaller communities, where they do not always have the same level of financial resources. Investing in public infrastructure will not only benefit the community, but can reduce the ecological footprint of a project.

A small public square surrounded by retail opportunities creates a space that benefits residents and tenants alike. The public square, which may include some greenery, a couple of benches, maybe some picnic tables, could serve as the perfect place to enjoy lunch from a local vendor during a work day or a family excursion during the holiday season to view the Christmas lights. For tenants, public spaces like this are great for increasing foot traffic and potential customers. Involving the local businesses in community events such as a Christmas Market, is a win-win-win.

Local businesses get the opportunity to showcase their product in a high-traffic environment. Local consumers are exposed to products and items that they may have otherwise overlooked. The developer of the space can work with local organizations and business associations to continue to host events with a positive impact.

Such an increase in foot traffic combined with a lower barrier to entry for tenants in bedroom communities, results in a highly desirable commercial location. When supplemented with modern building materials, accessible spaces and amenities for tenants, you’ll be creating a space that is primed for a high return on investment and low vacancy rates.

As remote work and telecommuting increases in popularity, it is important to prioritize and invest in communities outside of major metropolitan areas. As people are hungry to connect with family and friends in a world that is dominated by online transitions, the competitive advantage is now face-to-face encounters. Residents are rediscovering their communities and habits are continuing to change, but listening and getting involved in the community is the best way to guarantee success for your investment, your potential tenants and create a better space for community members.