The (executive) Suite Life: Appreciating the importance of transit when selecting an office space

As I type this, I’m sitting in an office at Avenue Business Center, which occupies the entire third floor at 500 N. Michigan Ave.  I mention the address because it is not only a feature but also a benefit of the space.  Size of the office space, location in the city, proximity to clients or other businesses, quality of the space – these are all factors that get a lot of attention during a site selection process.  One factor that frequently is overlooked when doing a space search is transit access.  The location of the office where I am working demonstrates the value of convenience.  I can walk half of a block from my home to pick up my choice of bus line that will run express down Lake Shore Drive and drop me off right in front of my building – total commute time: 20-25 minutes.  In stark contrast is my roommate’s commute – living downtown, but working in the north suburbs, he takes a bus west to a train north to a shuttle that drops him at his office complex – total commute time: 60-75 minutes on a good day, plus 3 changes of transit type, which can add additional latency.  My roommate is a very special exception to the rule; most of my peers in the late generation X/early generation Y (already in the work force) are not willing to accept the commutes that our parents have historically.  We want immediate action and quality of life and office location can have a substantial impact on our employment decisions.

Now, that isn’t to say that no employers are taking transit into consideration when evaluating their space.  The US Government “gets it”.  Working on the GSA projects for the US Census Bureau, I was impressed that proximity to bus line was a question included on the market survey forms, to ensure that the employees at the Census Bureau would have access to transit to and from work.  If you are in the market to evaluate your location and ways to improve your top line (i.e. the revenue from hiring the best, brightest and most productive), take into consideration where they live and how far they’re willing to travel.  You may find that a small time investment up-front will yield substantial returns down the road.

Since I saved so much time on my commute, I was able to sleep in 15 more minutes and still have almost half an hour on each side of my work day to be more productive.