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As technology and demographic shifts emerge, the literal and figurative lines

between front and back offices are becoming increasingly blurred, which is

noticeably affecting the location of offices, their design and necessary personnel.

Additionally, changing organizational models and the battle to acquire top-

ranked talent are spurring the move of back offices from the periphery into Core

Urban Areas.

For decades, companies reduced real estate costs by housing clerical workers in

back-office space, typically far from central business district-located executive

offices. Back-office operations and shared service centers (SSCs) were usually

located on the urban periphery, allowing companies to hire low and moderate-

skilled workers at a lower cost than those hired for jobs located within the CBD.

However, as an increasing amount of business processes become



the need for such positions has significantly decreased and many are being


. Additionally, “back offices” today operate in a highly collaborative


environment using complex technology platforms and therefore

increasingly require high-skilled multilingual workers. These Accounting, Finance

or IT skills are often more difficult to source then traditional front office roles.

These workers are typically young talent who desire a live/work/play environment

in centralized urban locations. This labor pool is driving a wave of


as offices move into the center of cities to attract talent, and also redesign their

spaces to be collaborative, lively, and inviting.

Ironically, the common front-office positions, like customer service and sales,

are actually becoming automated and


; the dichotomy that once

existed between front and back offices has turned on itself, and the two are

no longer easily separable. The obvious convergence of front and back offices

is driving additional resources into CBDs to cater to and retain the supply of

high-skilled and tech-savvy workers that have become vital to many businesses’


The churn and retention of unattractive “back office” will cost a business several

times the property savings. In today’s quest to attract and engage the best talent,

the workplace needs to embrace diverse location settings.

The emerging wave of highly connected central office hubs will give front and

back office employees greater opportunity to interact and, in turn, foster an

environment of collaboration and innovation.


Senior Director &

Co-head of Strategic Consulting EMEA




Front and Back Offices:

Capital City

Urban Fringe


Urban Area

Previous Front Office

Previous Back Office

Home Base

❶ ❶

Satellite Co-Working

Main Core City Centre

Satellite Town

in Green Belt

Large Regional City


16 | Cushman &Wakefield