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
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 EMEAtamas.firstname.lastname@example.org
OF THE PAST?
Front and Back Offices:
Previous Front Office
Previous Back Office
Main Core City Centre
in Green Belt
Large Regional City
16 | Cushman &Wakefield