How often do you use the Internet? It seems like a loaded question, but over 80 percent of American adults use the Internet daily, with 48 percent of users aged 18 to 29 reporting that they are online “almost constantly.” In fact, experts say that Americans allocate an average of 6 hours and 31 minutes of their time per day to online use, and half of that time is spent utilizing mobile devices. Despite this, many apartment communities nationwide have yet to roll out community-wide Internet connectivity for their residents.
Some communities abandon the idea of community-wide Wi-Fi connectivity due to cost, while others may not realize their current (and future) residents’ desire for full-scale access. Despite the reasoning, these properties will end up losing business to communities that have extended their Wi-Fi access past common areas and into outdoor spaces and even residents’ homes. These communities are offering what prospects really want: a technology package that meets their expectations for constant connectivity, especially right now, as we navigate uncharted territory with new social distancing guidelines.
Even before the on-set of COVID-19, however, 93 percent of apartment renters ranked high-speed Internet as a vital apartment amenity. Millennials and Generation Z prize seamless Internet access – after all, Gen-Z has never known life without the Internet, and those days are growing increasingly distant for Millennials. But, younger residents aren’t the only ones who value uninterrupted, wireless Internet access. According to Pew Research Center, over 70 percent of older adults consider themselves Internet users and spend half of their daily leisure time in front of screens. That’s right—Internet connectivity is important to everyone, not just the younger generations.
The Internet is not only valuable to discerning renters looking to enjoy an elevated lifestyle—it is also regarded as essential to modern life. The current COVID-19 pandemic has only proven that the Internet is an invaluable tool when communities are in crisis. Now, more than ever before, we are in dire need of uninterrupted Internet connectivity, so that we may successfully seek out reliable information, communicate with others, and handle daily tasks—which, for a growing number of Americans, means turning to laptops and tablets, in order to work remotely.
Prior to COVID-19, working remotely has become substantially mainstream, with almost 5 million American employees working from home at least half of their workweek, and 62 percent of employees, aged 22 to 65, reporting that they work remotely on occasion. In looking at the bigger picture, America’s remote workforce grew 159 percent between 2005 and 2017.
The importance of remote work accommodations has only grown more evident as COVID-19 grips the nation. In an even larger shift, 46 percent of American businesses implemented remote-work policies by mid-February of 2020 to protect their employees’ health and financial well-being. Right now, 95 percent of Americans, or about 306 million people, work from home, essentially relying on web connectivity for their next paycheck.
As Americans practice self-isolation, the Internet has served as an avenue for all of our interactions, whether it’d be conducting virtual business meetings, video chatting with loved ones, streaming videos and other forms of entertainment, staying connected to the latest news, and more. It has helped us maintain some form of normalcy during an uncertain time. To prepare for your community’s next hardship—and trust us, it will come—you should consider implementing a solid, property-wide Internet connection to help your residents feel safe and remain informed.
Today’s apartment resident is very different from the renter of yesteryear. Whether they're on-the-go Gen-Z, career-focused Millennials, or independent seniors, modern apartment dwellers are more diverse and lifestyle-oriented these days. More importantly, they share a common desire for community-wide wireless Internet that can help them at all times, but especially, during a time of crisis. By installing a community-wide connection, you’ll boost your property’s appeal, while attracting residents who seek contemporary conveniences and benefits.
Kerry W. Kirby is a global entrepreneur, technology innovator, philanthropist, and the founder of 365 Connect, an award-winning technology firm within the multifamily housing industry. Over the course of his career, Kerry has been the recipient of an array of highly acclaimed awards, including the esteemed Louisiana Governor's Technology Award. He has been named to the Silicon Bayou 100 List of most influential entrepreneurs for nine consecutive years and has received a prestigious Titan Entrepreneur Award for his technological achievements. An acclaimed speaker, author, and award-winning podcaster, Kerry has appeared on the BBC Digital Planet program, NPR News, and various media platforms and outlets. He has contributed to an array of articles and studies on the convergence of technology in the rental housing industry.
Kerry serves on the Board of Advisors of Rainbow, a national nonprofit organization that provides service-enriched housing programs for affordable housing communities across the country, as well as the Board of Advisors of the Multifamily Women’s Summit, an event that allows women to strengthen their expertise, influence, and professional network in the multifamily housing industry. He is Chair of Technology Initiatives for the Multifamily Innovation Advisory Council, a private, members only group focused on assisting owners and operators of multifamily communities identify pain points and explore innovative solutions that will drive change across the industry.