Written by Nick Lee, SIOR, CCIM and Jeremy Brubaker

The Suburbanization of the Workforce: An Influx of People into the Suburbs and What That Means for Office Space

The suburbanization of the workforce is upon us and quicker than some expected. The pandemic has had a significant impact on how, where and when people work, however, it’s not the only factor. Suburban growth, cost of living and commutes are also on the minds of employees when deciding if they should stay or leave for better opportunities in their careers. Companies looking to renew their office leases should consider this trend and its potential effects on their employees.

Suburban Growth

This sudden migration, while initially spurred by fear of the pandemic, isn’t the only the reason suburbs are expanding. Another reason for an influx of people into the suburbs is the natural development of the region. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas accounts for 50% of the top 10 largest-gaining counties in 2021 and with large development plans for suburbs like Frisco who’s set to build the new $2 billion Fields West mixed-use development, will easily appeal to those seeking new offices with plenty of retail and restaurants for their workforce to enjoy.

Cost of living

Within the last year, the rise of inflation has increased to 6.2 percent and is the largest rise in a 12-month inflation increase in over thirty years. Some builders are also estimating around 18 months before a new build can be complete, while it’s the wild west for those trying to buy or rent a house in today’s low inventory market, even apartment rents have risen considerably. A recent National Rent Report states “Over the past 12 months as a whole, rent prices have spiked by an unprecedented 17.1 percent nationally.” If companies are deciding on renewing their lease or moving to a new office location, they should consider the impact of a move on their current employees and if the cost of living will force them to lose quality employees. In contrast, if they plan to move and will need to replace employees, then they should look at the pay of their employees in comparison to the cost of living in the new location to determine if it makes sense for the move.


A recent survey revealed remote employees save an average of 40 minutes daily from commuting and 59% of respondents said they would be more likely to choose an employer who offered remote work compared to those who didn’t. Many companies who offered remote work during the pandemic now face the crossroads of deciding to continue that path, go hybrid, or find ways to entice their employees back into the office. It might be wise for corporate occupiers trying the last two options to take notice and jump on the growing trend of workers wanting to live in the suburbs rather than downtown and look into the available office spaces. With shorter commutes than before as well an increased cost-saving from being located outside city centers where office buildings exist, more companies will be moving their operations into these locations – especially those who can find space there!

Although suburbs are changing, it is important to remember that these changes may not be advantageous for all. Before making any decisions about the future of a suburban business, companies should carefully consider all outcome possibilities. By reflecting on the effects suburbanization can have on employees, customers, and the community at large, businesses can make informed choices about their next steps.

Nick Lee, SIOR, CCIM: nlee@nairl.com, 214-256-7121
Jeremy Brubaker: jbrubaker@nairl.com, 214-256-7118