Wellness Features Termed a ‘Necessity’ for Today’s Homes

by Anita Shaw

INDIANAPOLIS — Well­ness fea­tures, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and an elevated awareness of indoor envi­ron­ments’ impact on phys­i­cal and men­tal health, are no longer a lux­u­ry, but rather a necessity in today’s homes, a leading wellness expert contends.

According to Dr. Jie Zhao, exec­. v.p. of Delos, a New York-based well­ness real estate and tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny, COVID-19 has literally reshaped the way homes – including kitchens and baths ­– will be designed, built, equipped and remodeled in years to come.

“Peo­ple are much more cog­nizant of the impor­tant role that homes play in our lives, and how these envi­ron­ments can have a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive impact on the well­ness of their inhab­i­tants,” Jie said.

At the recent “Insights Sum­mit,” an annual event sponsored by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), Jie outlined four key wellness trends that he believes will have the greatest impact on home improve­ment in the post-pan­dem­ic world. Among them:

Indoor Air Quality: Because virus­es spread through the air much eas­i­er than by sur­face con­tact, the pan­dem­ic shed light on the impor­tance of indoor air qual­i­ty, or IAQ, as a com­po­nent of a healthy home, Jie said.

“Air fil­tra­tion is vital to the reduc­tion of par­ti­cle trans­mis­sion,” he observed. “Not only can air-clean­ing tech­nolo­gies improve peace of mind when it comes to invis­i­ble health threats like COVID-19, they also tack­le vis­i­ble parti­cles in the air such as smoke and oth­er harm­ful particles.”

Jie said that ven­ti­la­tion and/​or ion­iza­tion tech­nol­o­gy will be at the fore­front of the fight against con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed air in home spaces. ​“For this rea­son, IAQ may be the biggest well­ness trend to have emerged from the pan­dem­ic,” he noted.

Mental Wellness: Men­tal well­ness issues per­sist­ed long before the emer­gence of the coro­n­avirus, but the amount of atten­tion devot­ed to the top­ic increased sig­nif­i­cant­ly after­ward, Jie said, noting that men­tal health came to the fore­front of con­ver­sa­tion due to iso­la­tion dur­ing stay-at-home orders.

Jie observed that one result of this for the home-improvement industry is the gen­er­al migra­tion away from con­gest­ed cities in favor of larg­er res­i­dences, more nature and less com­mut­ing time. Jie also point­ed to the effect of men­tal well­ness on increased demand in cer­tain prod­uct cat­e­gories, including home enter­tain­ment, artists’ sup­plies, sports equip­ment and pets.

Home Offices: Anoth­er major change emerg­ing from the pan­dem­ic is the increased impor­tance of the home office.

“Many employ­ees have made invest­ments in their home offices and have got­ten used to work­ing from home,” Jie said, pointing to surveys which found that 80% of work­ers want to be able to work from home three days per week, and 92% want at least one remote work­day per week.

“There has been a rise in office fur­ni­ture and acces­sories that sup­port health and well­ness, such as the stand­ing desk or ergonom­ic key­board,” Jie said, adding that 20-25% of com­pa­nies are cur­rent­ly reim­burs­ing their employ­ees for well­ness-relat­ed home office sup­plies and fur­ni­ture, “hint­ing at the prospect that work-from-home may be around well into the com­ing years.”

Fitness: While the spread of COVID-19 led to the tem­po­rary clo­sure of most gyms and ath­let­ic insti­tu­tions, it gave rise to new home fit­ness technolo­gies, as peo­ple sought to stay fit with­in the con­fines of their own homes, Jie pointed out.

“Com­pa­nies like Pelo­ton and MIRROR are chang­ing the way we think about fit­ness (and) com­bin­ing the phys­i­cal and vir­tu­al,” he said. “Con­sumers not only pur­chase a piece of gym equip­ment for their home, but they buy into an entire online social and con­tent expe­ri­ence.”

“I expect to see more inte­gra­tion with online fit­ness plat­forms and home décor,” he said. “Peo­ple want con­vert­ible spaces, so the eas­i­er their equipment blends with their home and lifestyle, the bet­ter.”

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