How Office Location Affects Your Talent Pool

ndenlinger Uncategorized Leave a Comment

As we discuss future plans for SmartLINK two discussions that come up frequently are “Who and when are we going to hire next” and “When and where are we going to setup our next office”. As we grow we plan on adding a handful more developers and a few other roles to SmartLINK. Also, we are currently sharing some space with another company in Newport, KY. However, we are quickly outgrowing the shared space and know that our own office is something coming soon on the horizon. Those two discussions normally end up colliding into each other and create a new discussion, “Will the location we choose for the office affect who we hire”.

I have heard of many stories of companies moving their offices to new locations in search of reaching more talent. Many times that means they move to bigger cities like Chicago, New York or the Mecca of tech talent, Silicon Valley. However most of the time moving your company across the country isn’t an option. When that is the case how do you optimize for where you are? Most people I have talked to have always said to get the top talent put your office downtown in the trendiest location. Also of course make sure you have a ping pong table, some super uncomfortable but trendy furniture, maybe a kegerator, some monitors displaying live stats and all the other typical startup office absolute needs.

If you would have asked me even 5 years ago I probably would have given you the same answer, move downtown. However, as I have grown older and now have a family with kids and live in the suburbs I have realized there are decent number of other tech people who have done the same. The same people who 5 years ago lived in a studio apartment downtown and walked to work, now had a house in the suburbs a spouse and kids. Some of those people found jobs outside the city, some moved to freelance work, and some still drive downtown everyday.

Over the years I have seen a few companies that were farther out in the suburbs move downtown. A recent example is Kroger just announced they are moving their technical team from Blue Ash to downtown. When I talk to people who worked at those companies, some love the idea of working downtown, however some hate the idea of going downtown everyday and dealing with things like traffic and parking. I know some people who even found new jobs because they refused to go downtown everyday.

So where should you put your office to get access to the most talent? I wanted to try to get some hard facts, not just guess. I decided to make a quick survey and get tech people mainly in the Cincinnati/Dayton area to answer some questions about this topic. I will start with some questions that were more just for information about who was answering the survey but don’t really help us find the answer to our main question.

What is your current level at work?

What is your current salary range?

We can’t give an exact number because we used ranges but the average salary would be right around $100,000 per year.

What zip code do you currently live in?

Out of 61 responses we received, 45 unique zip codes for where people live. And the highest count we got for any single zip code was only 3. I was really surprised how spread out everyone was. Here is a heatmap of where everyone lives, it is zoomed in on the Cincinnati/Dayton area as that is where most of the responses came from.

What zip code do you currently work in?

Compared to 45 unique zip codes for where people live, we only received 23 unique zip codes for where people work. The highest counts were:

  • 19 in 45202, Downtown Cincinnati
  • 7 in 45040, Mason
  • 7 in 45402, Downtown Dayton
  • 5 in 45242, Blue Ash & Montgomery

I wasn’t really surprised to see that where we work is much more concentrated than where we live. However, out of 61 responses only 26 worked downtown according to zip codes. However, you can see in the heatmap there are much high concentrations towards downtown areas.

Based off of zip codes alone, translated into latitudes and longitudes, here are some stats about how far from home people work:

Average Distance: 11.09 miles
Mean Distance: 6.99 miles
Max Distance: 106 miles
Min Distance: 0 miles

Here is a breakdown of how far away from work the respondents live.

If you had the option to work from home or come into the office how many days a week would you work from home?

This one was interesting to me as I hear a lot of people say that most people today want to work from home 100% of the time. Also know that a lot of people hate having to go into the office everyday. Our results show that very few people want only one or the other. Most respondents want a combination of working from home and having an office to go into.

Max drive time (in minutes) from home if you went to the office 5 days a week.

The average was about 24 minutes.

Max drive time (in minutes) from home if you went to the office 2 days a week.

The average was about 38 minutes.

Where do you prefer to work?

For this question the respondents had to choose Highly Prefer, Prefer, Neutral, Probably Wouldn’t Work Here, Wouldn’t Work Here, for 4 different options: Downtown, Within 5 miles of Downtown, Within 15 miles of Downtown, and Outside 15 miles of Downtown.

I believe this is the most important set of questions that help us gain the most insight into our main question of where should you put your office to get access to the most talent? First here is an overall view of the responses people gave.

As you can see Downtown definitely has the highest count for Highly Prefer so if you just did a quick glance that tends to support the theory of putting an office downtown. But let’s dig into the numbers a little more. The next thing I did was give each answer a score from 4 to 0 (Highly Prefer to Will not work here), so a high score is better. Here are the results:

The downtown option and within 5 miles option are statistically almost equal. The reason for this is while not nearly as many people highly prefer 5 miles from downtown, you don’t have nearly as many people say the probably won’t work there or won’t work there. I believe this comes down to issues like we talked about before like parking, traffic, etc…

The next stat I think is the most revealing to our main question. Let’s assume that for the average job you lose out on anyone who answers mostly likely won’t work there or won’t work there. I then did a count and figured out what percentage of the respondents would work in each area. Here are the results for each area based on the percent of people who gave a neutral or better score:

In my opinion this makes it seem pretty conclusive that if you want to reach the highest percentage of talent in your area the best location to put your office is not downtown, but within 5 miles of downtown. My assumption is that if you are within 5 miles of downtown you are close enough for the people who live downtown to not feel like they are driving all the way out to the suburbs and for the people who live out in the suburbs they aren’t having to deal with a longer drive time, more traffic and paying for parking.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey!

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