The Herman Trend Alert|
February 25, 2005
Satellite Work Centers
In the late 1990s, some companies opened satellite work centers in major metropolitan areas. In an effort to attract more employees in a competitive labor market, remote facilities were opened in suburbs where they were accessible to the people the companies sought to hire. These office areas were fully connected to downtown operations, but employees did not have to endure the stress or travel time of a long commute. Just as the trend was starting to move, the economy slowed and employers reduced their expansions and closed many of the satellite locations.
The trend is returning, for the same reasons and for some new ones. Competition for good employees is intensifying, so location of work sites often makes a difference. Today’s employees are more family-centered than they were a decade ago, and they desire more flexibility in their working hours. The concerns for the environment (pollution from thousands of motor vehicles on the roads in the morning and afternoon) are still prevalent, now aggravated by higher fuel costs.
Many employers have moved from central cities to suburban or exurban locations, making competition for qualified workers even more difficult. If people who live in suburbs can find satisfactory jobs close to home, they are less likely to invest in the commute to the downtown area. Commercial real estate outside the central city is often cheaper, as well.
This trend began in the United States, now spreading to other countries.
Barrie's Suite Works opened the first remote work centre in Canada in December:
22,000 square feet of high-tech office space with room for 120 telecommuters. If jobs can be performed from distant lands, why not arrange for the work to be done from suburban locations? It is less expensive, more attractive, and supports workers and the environment. More information about Suite Works can be found at www.stopcommuting.ca.
The concept of satellite work centers will spread to other countries with congested cities, like Brazil (San Paulo), Colombia (Bogota), and Mexico (Mexico City). Some facilities will be operated entirely for the employees of one company; others will serve employees of a number of employers.
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