Vie de bureau : la localisation de l’entreprise est devenue la priorité des salariés

05 June 2024

Office life: company location has become an employee priority

Companies and Careers Research and Faculty

In research conducted by teacher-researchers Delphine Minchella of EM Normandie and Gisele de Campos Ribeiro of Paris School of Business, the location of a company - and especially the twice-daily commute to work - is of paramount importance to employees and job applicants alike. The length, cost and comfort of the journey are more important than the amenities available around the office.

What's more, the availability of public transport is particularly crucial for women. As a result, limiting our thinking to the organization of workspaces, as many companies do, is necessarily reductive.

Evolution of the choice of business location

Historically, companies in the service sector determined their location based on the choices made by their main competitors. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread adoption of telecommuting, the commercial real estate market has undergone profound changes. The question of actual office occupancy has become a guiding factor: are employees present enough to justify keeping their own office? 

Activity-Based Working, an approach that sees workspaces as resource islands specifically adapted to the professional activities of users, who choose their location according to their specific needs, has also taken hold. Finally, the need to maintain, and even encourage, informal relations between all employees has prompted decision-makers to think about the best layouts for collective spaces. 

However, all these considerations - all of which are essential - may have overshadowed another dimension of organizational space: its location

Ease of access to the company has become paramount

Delphine Minchella, Associate Professor of Organization Theory at EM Normandie and Gisele de Campos Ribeiro, Associate Professor of Marketing at Paris School of Business explored the following aspects: ease of access to the organization by public transport and its availability; traffic density around the workplace; the presence of nearby restaurants; the presence of places for “after-work” activities (gyms, shops, etc.); the visual appeal of the neighborhood; and finally, proximity to home. 

The results of their study, based on responses from 507 employees working throughout France, show that company location is important, with an average of 3.64 out of 5 on a scale ranging from 1 to 5. We also observe that the most valued aspect is the “availability and ease of access to public transport” - whether in the countryside, in a small, medium-sized or large city/suburban area - while the “presence of places for after-work activities” is the least important, with an average value of 3.35 on a scale of 5. It is therefore clearly location as a commute that prevails for the individuals in the study: 

  • 69.4% of participants consider “availability and ease of access to public transport” as “fairly or very important”; 

  • 51,3 % des participants considèrent la « présence de lieux pour des activités après le travail » comme « assez important ou très important »

Graphique importance localisation entreprise

Results differ by age and gender

In a second step, the researchers carried out analyses taking into account the age of the respondents. The “presence of places for after-work activities” is more important for Generation Z and millennials than for members of Generation X and Baby-Boomers*. 62% of Gen Zers find this aspect “fairly or very important”, versus 35.9% of Baby Boomers. When it comes to the importance of public transport, results differ depending on where respondents live. Public transport is particularly important for people living in areas where it is already well developed. 

Generally speaking, the importance attached to the various aspects of business location does not differ according to respondents' age generation, with the exception of the aspect “Presence of places for after-work activities in the vicinity of the workplace (sports centers, shopping malls, etc.)”, which is more important for Generation Z participants and millennials (significant differences) than for Generation X participants and baby-boomers. So, if the company wants to attract Gen Z and millennial talent, it seems important to be located near places devoted to after-work activities. 

Finally, the study shows more significant differences according to respondents' gender. Working “close to home” and “availability and ease of access to public transport” are two aspects that are clearly more important for women than for men. Women are still the most involved members of the couple, when it comes to shopping, preparing meals or picking up children from school. They are therefore looking for practical solutions to facilitate their professional and personal lives.

  • 74.2% of women consider the “availability and accessibility of public transport” aspect “fairly or very important”, compared with only 64.2% of men.
  • 67% of women consider “proximity to home” to be “fairly or very important”, versus only 55.8% of men.

“As a result, choosing a neighborhood for its gyms, restaurants and stores won't necessarily be attractive to everyone, especially more senior employees who don't plan to regularly go out with their colleagues after work. With this in mind, location selection can contribute to the development of an effective employer branding strategy, targeting the aspects most valued by employees and the talents in demand. However, to satisfy the greatest number of employees, proximity to easily accessible public transport will be essential,” explain Delphine Minchella and Gisele de Campos Ribeiro.  

*Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1964); Generation X (born between 1965 and 1977); Millennials (born between 1978 and 1994); Generation Z (born from 1995). 

Solenn Morgon

Solenn Morgon

EM Normandie Media Relations Manager