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Companies use urban office locations to attract IT talent

Fred O'Connor | Nov. 7, 2014
To attract workers in the competitive technology job market, remote connectivity service provider LogMeIn decided that a change of address was needed.

Even if major technology companies in Boston's suburbs began hiring, "I don't think it's going to reverse this trend, but it's going to balance it out a bit," he said. But since small and medium-sized companies prefer to set up around similarly sized companies, technology hiring in Boston would still skew toward positions in the city.

"If you're a big company that's outside of the city and you're looking for less senior level people to add to your team -- people either right out of school or have a handful of years in the industry -- that becomes very difficult," Hicks said.

Companies in Silicon Valley face similar challenges with younger technology workers preferring to live and work in San Francisco, said Megan Slabinski, district president for staffing firm Robert Half Technology.

"Millennials want to live closer to cultural centers. It's hard to get them to want to work outside of the city," she said.

To ease the commuting concerns of city dwellers, companies including Facebook, Google and Apple run shuttle buses that ferry workers from San Francisco to their respective suburban campuses. Other Silicon Valley companies try to locate their offices close to subway and train lines running from San Francisco, Slabinski said.

"The objection of someone working outside the city tends to go down when we can talk about their public transportation options," she said.

Suburban companies that need younger workers and their knowledge of trendy technologies should recruit from colleges near their offices before students graduate and move to the city, Slabinski said. In the case of Bay Area companies, she suggests recruiting from colleges in Sacramento, which is about a 90-minute drive from San Francisco.

Another option is to encourage experienced employees to enroll in training programs, like coding camps, where they can learn in demand skills, she said.

"There are really talented people all over the Bay Area. Companies just might need to adjust their expectation of the talent pool they're looking for," Slabinski said.

Suburban companies hold advantages in technology recruiting, she said. There can be less competition for candidates outside of urban areas and candidates with deeper experience levels -- and families -- tend to live in the suburbs.

LogMeIn initially feared that its more experienced workers who commuted from New Hampshire would leave the company since the move to Boston would increase their travel time. To counter the longer commute, the company allowed employees to have flexible work hours and permits some telecommuting, said Upton. So far, attrition hasn't spiked, she said.

"We tried to create an environment that it might be a little harder for you to get here but once you get here, it's going to be more fun," Kelliher added.


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