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Sign of the Times as McDonald’s Moves Downtown


As the 800-pound gorilla of the restaurant industry moves its headquarters from the Chicagoland suburbs into a new downtown campus, the rest of the franchise world—’zors to multi-unit ‘zees—needs to think about its own location and how that impacts employee recruitment and retention.

Asking your current employees where they live and would like to work is key, but forward-looking companies need to emphasize the priorities of younger, future employees and realize that the spacious suburban campus in the woods isn’t nearly as appealing as it used to be.

It’s not just hipsters wanting to live and work in more urban, walkable areas, either. This trend has officially gone mainstream, especially as mighty MCD hops on the bandwagon. Today, everyone from new college grads, young families, empty nesters and retirees are opting to spend less time in cars and more time walking to the park, library or shop down the street.

The benefits of a more centralized office for employees are key: a better work-life balance, less money and time spent repairing the car, better health from less time stressed out in a car seat, easier commutes on bad-weather days, and the ability to live in more desirable areas of the city.

For employers, recruiting the best and the brightest is vital to future growth. It’s the reason many American downtowns are bustling with construction cranes—even with higher real estate costs than suburbs.

Multiple studies show young people now choose where they want to live before searching for a job. Companies paying attention to these trends should consider locating near transit lines, hot neighborhoods and generally being near the center of attention.

In a previous field, I spent 10 years as a super-commuter. I know the financial, emotional and physical toll a life spent in traffic takes on you. Even with a job I loved, I was determined to find something “almost as good” as long as it meant a shorter commute and staying in the city. Lucky for me, I was able to find an even better job 10 minutes away from my house and just outside the city center.

You could say Franchise Times has me right where it wants me, and it’d be right.

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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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