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How Small Businesses Can Land Big Talent

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    The year 2014 may be winding down, but employers are ramping up hiring as they add seasonal employees during the holidays and look ahead to 2015.

    In fact, three in 10 companies planned to add full-time, permanent employees in the fourth quarter of 2014, up four percentage points from the same period last year, according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey. While that's good news for the economy, it presents challenges for startups and other small businesses that are vying for the same talent as larger corporations with bigger budgets and more opulent offices.

    Even though many small businesses can afford to lease traditional office space, they often lack the resources to secure space in the best locations, where demand -- and prices -- are sky high. An increasingly popular alternative to conventional office space is shared office centers, which not only save small businesses money on real estate expenses, but also make it easier for them to attract top talent.

    Three benefits of these flexible office environments are:

    -A more professional appearance: Typically it's the job applicant who wants to make a good impression on the employer, but it's also important for businesses that are hiring to convey a sense of professionalism to prospective employees. By offering a full support staff, as well as the latest technologies and amenities of a Fortune 500 company, including everything from state-of-the-art conference rooms and lounges to cafeterias, shared office centers help small businesses appear larger than they actually are. This helps level the playing field with larger corporations whose offices would otherwise outshine those of a smaller company, potentially winning over job applicants who pay close attention to the look and feel of a workplace.

    -A better location: With millenials projected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, a number of employers are going after young professionals who want to live, work and play in dense urban areas, where landlords often charge a premium for office space, regardless of its age or condition. Chicago's downtown district, for example, experienced the largest numeric gain in residents between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, leading many employers to open satellite offices there or, in some cases, relocate all of their operations. While larger companies can afford to lease tens or hundreds of thousands of square feet, most smaller businesses are priced out of desirable submarkets like Chicago's Loop where today's young professionals want to work. Shared office centers allow these companies to have a prime downtown address at a fraction of the cost of traditional office space, making it easier to recruit millennials who already live there or can easily commute using public transportation.

    -An opportunity to grow: While shared offices are a permanent solution for some businesses, many consider them a temporary home where they can scale operations and, eventually, expand into a downtown space of their own. This potential for growth is especially appealing to millennials who want to work for companies that are perceived as "going somewhere" and allow their employees to come along for the ride. In a recent Ernst & Young survey, millennials were significantly more likely than Gen-Xers and baby boomers to rank promotions as their No. 1 office perk, reflecting their desire to work for companies that are on an upward trajectory. By getting their start in a shared office environment, small businesses are able to give prospective employees all the tools and amenities they expect from a larger company while simultaneously inviting them to play a key role in future growth.

    Frank Chalupa is president and co-founder of Amata Office Solutions, a Chicago-based real estate provider specializing in office solutions for companies requiring up to 10,000 square feet of office space. A licensed brokerage, Amata’s clientele includes businesses of all sizes, including solo practitioners and startups, as well as large corporations looking to establish sales outposts in Chicago. In addition to office brokerage services, Amata owns and operates six state-of-the-art shared office facilities in the downtown Chicago. Learn more at amataoffices.com.

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