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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.

LogMeIn's office was designed with an open floor plan without offices to encourage collaboration, Upton said. The office has a roof deck, a gym and conference rooms named and decorated after the three cities where the company has offices. The London meeting space resembles a library and the Dublin space looks like a pub.

Sometimes simply being in a city isn't enough to lure IT workers. In New York City, technology companies need to be located in the right neighborhood, said Mike Fitzgerald, a partner in WinterWyman's New York office. Startups are clustered in neighborhoods below 35th Street and in Brooklyn so candidates expect companies that bill themselves as startups to be in those same areas, he said.

"To be a startup at 52nd Street is a little bit a fish out of water. You get a little bit of an inquisitive tone [from a candidate]. It's a very different vibe and I have seen instances where candidates will note that," Fitzgerald said.

Working for a startup in the Midtown section of Manhattan may not be appealing, he said.

"It's just such a different feeling there compared to Flatiron or Chelsea where there is a significant concentration of startups that are all blocks away from each other," Fitzgerald said, referring to two neighborhoods populated with tech companies.

For bitcoin exchange itBit, though, a Midtown location suited the company's efforts to attract IT workers from in the finance industry. The company was so keen on hiring staff with this niche background that it recently relocated its headquarters from Singapore to New York to be closer to candidates who have worked at the major financial services and investment companies.

"We need people who have deep financial technology experience and really that only exists in Wall Street," said Chief Operating Officer Andrew Chang, adding that even Silicon Valley lacks workers with the financial technology background his company needs.

ItBit's office helps it compete for talent with banking and investing heavyweights like JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, which offer generous salaries.

"We're trying to convince him or her that we have long-term prospects as a company. Part of that is where we are located and what our offices look like," Chang said.

ItBit considered other New York City neighborhoods, but they didn't offer the public transportation options or building security that the company needed. Being located near Grand Central Station provides easy commuting options for employees who live in Connecticut, New Jersey, Long Island or other parts of the city.

And opening their headquarters in the suburban cities of Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut, both home to hedge fund companies and financial service firms, would have cost the company workers who live closer to New York City.

"We were always going to be in Manhattan. It would be really tough to go to Connecticut. You lose all those New Jersey and Long Island people for the most part. It's kind of a no brainer for us to be in New York," Chang said.

 

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