The suburbs are making a comeback. In recent years, the regeneration of downtown areas for offices have been a hot topic. Now, however, suburban areas are starting to steal back the spotlight, particularly in the growth potential they offer professional service providers, startups, and small businesses.
A CBRE office report indicates that developers created a massive 48.9 million square feet of new office space in 2017 alone, and suburbs accounted for roughly 38.1 million square feet of that total.
The shift to the suburbs could be attributed to a number of things. Rising office rents in downtown areas, lower costs of housing and general living outside of the city, and the fact that Millennials aren’t quite as invested in city life as they were a decade ago are all contributing to the case for ‘burb life.
Even better news for businesses is that you can still gain big city credibility for yourself, even if you opt for a suburban office. Here’s how.
Maybe you’re not quite ready to move to the city, but you still want the credibility that comes with being in a larger market than your current one. If this is the case, you can invest in a virtual office that will give you “physical” presence without relocating.
Simply put, a virtual office gives your business a physical address, but without the overhead of a physical space and administrative staff. You can use this address in your marketing and even have mail sent to it, but you remain in your current space.
Virtual offices are being increasingly leveraged by small businesses and startups who want to minimize overhead, add credibility to their name, and make their company look bigger than it really is. It’s also an ideal solution if you don’t want to restrict your employees to a single location. Rather than coming into an office, they can work from wherever they’re most comfortable and avoid potentially long, productivity-killing commutes. This, of course, also opens up your talent pool significantly, allowing you to hire outside of your local area since location isn’t a barrier to hiring.
Speaking of talent, many companies are choosing to enlist the help of freelancers or remote workers to grow their business. Freelancing itself is a growing market, with some experts estimating that 43 percent of the workforce will be freelancing in some capacity by 2020.
Still, even with the help of freelancers, employers may find themselves struggling to recruit top talent. Unemployment remains at a record low of just 3.7 percent, a number that has not changed in months. That said, companies may find it beneficial to try to attract top freelancers to their company in a similar way as they attract regular employees.
One perk you could offer both types of workers is the benefit of a dedicated coworking space near them. Not all freelancers or remote employees want to work at home, so giving them a professional setting where they can concentrate and do their best work can be seen as a valuable job perk.
Plus, such a move could make your company appear bigger by having “offices” in multiple coworking spaces throughout the country.
According to Andrea Cross, CBRE’s head of office research for the Americas, many suburbs are doing notably better than comparable downtown markets. “In particular, a lot of the markets in the South and the West – places like Phoenix, Dallas, Silicon Valley, Denver – these suburbs are actually doing very well, and it primarily has to do with those places that have the live/work/play environment.”
As with anything in real estate, location is truly the most important factor. Suburban offices that offer a big city feel with public transit, walkability, and plenty of restaurants and entertainment are attracting workers to the area, particularly older Millennials who are in search of lower costs of living and better housing without sacrificing the amenities of a larger city. What appealed to Millennials 10 years ago doesn’t necessarily reflect their preferences now. These older Millennials are in their mid to late 30s. Many of them have families, so they’re looking for areas with safe, reputable schools, kid-friendly activities, and space to play.
Companies who employ office location as part of their strategy will be more likely to capitalize on this growing talent shift. Staking out a space near public transit or within walking distance to dining and shopping can give your business a leg up when it comes to hiring and gaining visibility within the community.
Nowadays, workers are looking for more than a paycheck and two weeks’ vacation. They’re considering things like flex time, work-life balance, and the office environment itself when vetting potential job opportunities, so it’s becoming increasingly important to understand your company via the employee experience.
In response, many companies are investing in office amenities like free snacks, coffee and juice bars, and multiple seating and workspace options rather than standard desks and chairs. Workers can choose the type of space they’re most comfortable in, whether it’s a private office, shared workspace, or even an outdoor picnic table.
There’s also the local factor to consider. Employees who seek a better work life balance could benefit from having local amenities to supplement their quality of life, such as stores that offer grocery delivery, yoga studios or gyms, and recreational opportunities. Companies may even consider ways to tie in some of these local benefits to the office via partnerships.
For small businesses and large enterprises alike, the suburbs offers plenty of opportunity for growth. Workers want the security and feeling of community that these areas provide, along with big city amenities without the impact of living in a big city.
At Office Evolution, we’ve made location one of our top priorities. We’ve established our brand in some of the biggest cities and most desirable suburbs in the country to help our clients compete for top talent and take advantage of the live/work/play environments that bring people together. Find the Office Evolution location nearest you and come take a tour today!