You’ve hired the best people, gotten the best equipment, and bought the best coffee to keep it all running strong. But there just might be one important factor you left out of the equation… location.
No, too simplistic right? Wrong.
All the investment you made in creating the perfect office may be for nothing if it’s placed in the wrong part of town. Workers, especially talented ones, put a premium on location you might not expect; and it drives many of them to look elsewhere for long term employment if yours isn’t good.
Consider what really makes a good location before you change yours.
What Makes a Good Location?
In urban environments that act as hubs for broader regions, like London or New York, employees frequently live in peripheral or distant areas and worriedly eye the nearest metro stations to understand how painful their commutes will be. Locating near a central or interchange station is preferable, and it’s a must if your company is in a dense but widespread urban context like this.
If in the process of selecting an entirely new city for your company, be sure to evaluate its public infrastructure, and not just major elements like trains or trams. Bike sharing, for example, is sweeping cities across the world. These small forms of transport also make areas accessible and cities that cater to them, like those in Holland, tend to have a raised quality of life that keeps talent there.
Natural tranquility is something that shouldn’t be overlooked either. Many employees treasure the ability to take a walk during the lunch hour or after work. It’s no wonder you see them full of people during this time in good weather months. In overcrowded districts, parks can also help calm down office stress. An especially valuable asset for your office are views onto green space that bring nature into the office and soften the daily grind. If you're looking for a new office, don’t forget to look for leaves.
Another element you want near your address is a good street culture that provides great restaurants, shops, and cultural elements. This is because you can’t possibly offer everything people want under one roof. Even if you provide free meals to your employees, they’ll eventually want something else and relish the variety of restaurants nearby to spice up their diets and comfort of cafes and pubs they can use to socialize after work. These opportunities to socialize outside the office have a direct impact on office culture because it encourages friendships and team building among employees; another element that keeps them from leaving and more productive.
Strange as it may sound, it’s good to be near your competition. Subconsciously it sends the message to your workers that they’re in the right place for their line of work and keeps them aware of what rival agencies and companies are doing. For companies that have a heavy client base and partnership load, it makes absolute sense to be near these clients for your employee’s sake as well as your own. They won’t be happy with long, wasteful trips around town when they can help build business next door. For creative fields like the tech and design industries as well, being around similar companies helps keep employees in the know about industry developments and hungry for competitive edge. Meetups and seminars that benefit their work are usually clustered near these centers too.
While not all cities are large enough to host them, universities help create all the above locational attributes: leafy campuses, vibrant cultural areas and places to eat, and industry know-how; with an added extra: youth. Especially for younger employees, keeping elements of university life can help them feel connected to a less rooted and freer lifestyle they are increasingly reluctant to cut off too abruptly. This is directly related to talent acquisition too as many recent graduates prefer to stay put instead of moving to an unfamiliar location without familiar friends and routines when they begin work. Like never before, college campuses are a real asset to have next door.
Summing Up: Choose Wisely
Many elements factor into choosing the perfect location for your office, but they all essentially boil down into increasing worker satisfaction and work-life balance. It means shortening commutes, ensuring there are things to do and places to go or eat around, and staying close to where the action is for your industry.
Whilst no one company is the same, or has the same needs, don’t forget to factor in these concerns the next time you consider switching location.