Outward Migrations

With talent acquisition and retention perennially landing at the top of the what-do-employers-want assessments, and with long commutes holding a similar position in the table of what employees don’t want, the decision to locate offices close to talent becomes a no-brainer. So that means putting them in the city centres, right? Increasingly, wrong. To take London as an example, there is only one age group for which there is a net inflow, that being 20-29; in every other category there are net outflows. The 15-19 group are significant net out-movers (of outer London and minor net in-movers to inner London), due to the passage to university. Lazy rhetoric about urbanisation unhelpfully conflates the UK’s position with that of China or India; in the UK, we’re moving to the suburbs and smaller towns. In the US, the position is the same. A report last week in the Wall Street Journal analysing recently released census figures points to the fourth consecutive year of net outflows from the large American cities. Affordability and quality of life are the drivers of this trend. More flexible working schedules and technology are key enablers. So, if your workforce is very young (UK average = 41) or if you’re happy to have a well-stocked graduate pool at the expense of a disgruntled partnership, then focus on the city centres. For everyone else, a strategy of offices on top of rail hubs, and some satellite provision might be the better option.