As employees demand a new kind of workplace, businesses are turning to DuPage

Chicago Suburbs Real Estate

Many of us went into 2020 assuming it would be relatively similar to 2019—as far as the business climate, at least. Safe assumption, right? We thought so. But then 2020 happened, and the status quo was turned on its head for just about every industry.

Take commercial real estate. At the beginning of the year, downtown Chicago was the hot place to be. After all, if you wanted to attract the best talent, you had to maximize your investment in urban office space (and offset those costs with a high-density space, in theory). Many businesses assumed that the only way to attract the best talent—particularly millennials—was to build a shiny, tightly packed office in the heart of downtown.


Was it expensive? Very. Did the skyrocketing taxes of Cook County make it hard to stay in business? Oh, yeah. Was the commute tiring for suburban workers? You bet. And were the offices just a little too crowded? Sure, but it’s not like everyone needed to be six feet apart at all times… right?

In hindsight, anyone can see the cracks in the former office space trends, long before they were pushed past their limit. The costs were too high; the high-density offices were too dense, even by pre-COVID-19 standards; and, as millennials grew older, they began looking to the suburbs. They had families to raise. They wanted more flexibility, shorter commutes, and better work-life balance.

As the pandemic emptied our offices, businesses began re-examining what their employees really wanted. The message was clear. Expensive build-outs and expanded amenities are nice. Sure. But what the workforce really wants is true balance between work, life, health and wellness: something altogether different than what many businesses were providing in 2019.

The difference? Now, businesses are listening.

In 2020, employees and employers alike have changed their definition of the ‘ideal’ workplace. Now, reversing the trend of the prior decade, many are turning away from the city and looking to the suburbs of DuPage County, where they are finding a place that meets both their immediate and long-term needs.

In no particular order, this is what DuPage offers businesses and employees:

Easier Commutes

Chicago Suburbs

For suburban workers, an office close to home marks an end to longer commutes. It also provides a place where they can actually get work done. (Turns out, it takes longer to complete projects when your 3-year-old is bursting into every Zoom meeting, demanding mac ‘n’ cheese NOW.)  Today, employees are demanding a workplace that’s close to home, but not at home. That’s why so many businesses are looking to DuPage, where they can provide a more accessible workplace for their suburban workforce.

Are we saying that you don’t need that downtown office? Not necessarily. For many businesses, it’s about finding a balance that suits both their downtown and suburban workforces. Do you really need that one giant, high-density downtown HQ? Or would you be better served by two regional offices: one downtown and one in DuPage? If your workforce is in both regions, the answer is clear.

Lower Cost of Doing Business

In DuPage, businesses get more for less. That’s because DuPage has significantly lower commercial property taxes than Cook County. Recently, that disparity was exacerbated by huge property tax increases in west and south suburban Cook.

In addition, DuPage has a AAA bond rating and a consistently balanced budget. When combined with DuPage’s lower taxes, that means predictability—one thing we all crave in 2021. 

A Healthier Workplace 

The pandemic enriched our definition of a ‘healthy’ workplace. Now, employees expect spaces designed for social distancing and other safety measures, as well as opportunities to go for lunchtime walks, connect with nature and even work outside.

Many of us got outside more than usual in 2020. Now, we want that to be part of our daily lives—even when we’re at the office.

This is another place where DuPage excels. With more greenspace—and more space than downtown, in general, as businesses can afford lower-density office spaces in the suburbs—many DuPage workplaces are designed first and foremost for employees’ health, wellness and desire for community. You can view some of our favorites here.

More Flexibility  

Chicago Suburbs Real Estate

In 2020, we discovered that we’re only certain about one thing: No one knows what the future holds.

Understandably, many businesses aren’t ready to make a long-term commitment. We get it. That’s why so many DuPage offices offer flexible, short-term leases. Some even offer fully furnished workplaces, so businesses can plug in and get started immediately. As a business owner, you don’t have to wait to provide your employees with a better workplace—you can start today.

Interested in a new workplace solution for your suburban workforce? Learn more about doing business in DuPage.