The Covid 19 pandemic has shaken up the world of work in an unprecedented fashion, changing our ideas of what a working environment should be. Lockdowns in many countries have driven an enormous growth in the number of people working from home. Remote working or a hybrid form of home and office-based work seems the ‘new normal’ for many.
However, for many industries, home working is not feasible and business location is just as important as it ever was.
The Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) at the University of Washington recently undertook a study that discovered that 75% of US workers could not work from home. The 25 % who could were involved in management, business, engineering, finance and computer science. A large and essential part of the economy, including manufacturing, construction, distribution, medicine, and education, cannot be supported by remote workers.
So for the vast majority of the economy, the need for a great location remains. If you are in business and you are looking for a new site, then the most important questions to ask yourself are:
Where Are My Customers and My Suppliers Located?
If you are part of a supply or distribution chain, you need to be as close as possible to your customers and suppliers. If geographic proximity is not possible, your new facility should be within easy reach of reliable travel infrastructure, whether that is a road network or an airport, to ensure that you can send and receive products as required and in good time.
Where Will My Workers Live?
Suppose your business is in manufacturing and requires hands-on workers in your factory. In that case, you will need to be near large urban areas to ensure easy travel access, schooling, childcare, and affordable housing for many employees.
In a high-tech industry, the question should be slightly different. It may be – where is my knowledge base? Science, pharmaceutical and technical industry hubs often develop near university towns where mutually beneficial partnerships can develop between pioneering researchers and high-tech production companies. Silicon Valley, California, is the ultimate example of this phenomenon. If you are in a cutting-edge industry, it is worth researching other areas where this is happening, albeit on a smaller scale. Paul Ognibene, a real estate developer in East Cambridge, Massachusetts, spotted that it was difficult for workers and businesses in the science and tech industries allied to Harvard University to find good quality housing and office space in the area. Brokering deals with local interested parties has allowed Paul and his company to provide a great living and working environment for companies and residents.
An imaginative business leader prepared to think outside the box may pose another question: Where do my workers want to live? A happy worker is a productive worker, so this is an important question. According to Conde Nast, the best place to live in the world in 2020 was Vienna!