Should New York City Be Your Next Corporate Campus?

There isn’t much that hasn’t already been written about New York City, and with good reason. As a hub of cultural diversity, economic prosperity, and competitive talent, the Big Apple is consistently at the forefront of productivity and innovation. In fact, 73 of Fortune’s top 500 companies are headquartered in NYC, with the top 10 alone generating approximately $718 billion dollars in annual revenue.

That’s not just luck. The city’s dense population naturally lends itself to a cross-pollination of ideas, while distinct, industry-focused neighborhoods encourage creative collaboration. These conditions have made New York an attractive spot for the next generation of corporate campuses. Traditionally, the campus was a suburban creation, a place where large enterprises could build a sprawling network of buildings, facilities, and open spaces for their sizable staff to enjoy. But in recent years, as talent has concentrated in metropolitan areas and transportation hubs have altered the nature of the commute, the very notion of what a corporate campus should be has shifted. Today, companies are looking for the opposite of the suburbs: a dense, lively, and culturally diverse epicenter to base their business.

And what better place than New York to establish a new campus? As successful enterprises look to the future, their version of the campus is broadening out to encompass the entirety of what this metropolis has to offer.

Inspiration from Everywhere

Companies need to provide inspiration from the inside (colleagues across the organization) and from the outside (other industries and closer connections to the end user and consumer). The city itself is becoming an amenity, so businesses can attract new talent while offering candidates the chance to connect and contribute to the surrounding community. According to Gensler, “the urban context will be transformed as a campus that knits together these various entities and creates greater opportunities for both individual and collaborative activities. This will allow individuals to work in a variety of settings, intermix, and blur the boundaries between work, living, and entertainment. The urban environment will become the new corporate workplace.”

New York is the perfect example of how a company’s surroundings can provide inspiration—from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, where designers, art directors, and other creatives can go to spark their imagination, to the High Line and Central Park, where an invigorating walk can motivate employees to achieve more and solve seemingly intractable problems. Having these activities at your fingertips can boost your business’s productivity, stimulate staff engagement, and create meaningful performance gains.

More is More

Picture how much easier recruitment efforts become when you can offer your top candidates the chance to eat lunch in a historic restaurant in Little Italy or to spend their weekends shopping in SoHo or Tribeca. Likewise, the efficiency of building localized supply chains near a dense population center where there are countless vendor options can make sourcing a much easier process, while giving your business a leg up against competitors who struggle to source their essentials.

Spreading your workforce throughout key NYC neighborhoods where both customers and competitors are positioned can yield new insights, competitive advantages, and access to talent pools. Similarly, employee satisfaction tends to rise with increased flexibility. That’s because the ability to work from different locations with unique amenities boosts staff productivity and instills a greater sense of purpose. Lastly, planting office locations throughout New York allows enterprises to touch more local businesses and communities, creating a significantly larger brand impact.

Where to Work

New York is in a state of perpetual transformation, with local hotspots opening and shuttering in the blink of an eye. Yet the commercial real estate landscape is far more stable, and many neighborhoods have distinct characteristics that reflect a company’s needs and wants. We’ve broken down the need-to-know facts for the top three commercial districts:

1. Flatiron

Named after its quintessential, wedge-shaped landmark building, the Flatiron District is bordered by Union Square—one of the city’s major subway transit hubs—to the south and 23rd St. to the north. Its convenient location makes it easy for employees within the city to commute to. The neighborhood includes Madison Square Park, a wildly popular green space where employees can go to view seasonal art exhibits or grab a lunchtime burger at Shake Shack.

Often considered the original “Silicon Alley,” the Flatiron District served as a launch pad for some of the largest technology companies. Over time, many of these firms moved on to more traditional digs in Midtown, making way for scrappier, tech-savvy startups such as Peloton, Betterment, and Moat. As for the spaces themselves, loft-like designs with relatively small footprints that feature high ceilings and abundant natural light are favored. These spaces have an element of old-time charm, often equipped with hardwood floors, industrial lighting, and wide-open spaces.

For employees looking for quality and convenience in where they shop and ear, fast-fashion boutiques such as H&M and Zara abound, as well as high-quality food chains like Sweetgreen, Eataly, and Juice Press.

Key Takeaway: If your company wants an upbeat, energetic vibe to house a creative community that would appreciate an even more creative space, look no further than Flatiron.

Curious to check out a flexible workspace in the Flatiron area? Take a look at some of these Knotel listings.

2. Midtown

Midtown Manhattan may be the most recognizable area in the city, thanks to landmarks like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and Times Square. That also makes it a popular destination for visiting clients. When trying to impress a potential customer, what better way to wow them than by taking them to an NBA game in Madison Square Garden, a hit play on Broadway, or a concert at Carnegie Hall?

With both Penn Station and Grand Central Station within the neighborhood’s borders, it’s remarkably easy to reach Midtown from virtually anywhere inside or outside the city, which employees and clients alike will love.

All these factors combined make Midtown a popular headquarters location for financial, tech, and media companies like JPMorgan, Salesforce, and Fox. The local landscape is dominated by high-rise spaces with expansive footprints and perimeter offices. Traditional designs are common, though the art-deco artistry lends a certain grandiose flair to many of the exteriors.

Key Takeaway: If your company needs a NY headquarters in the heart of the action that supports a diversely located workforce with access to robust IT infrastructure and classic amenities, Midtown is ideal.

3. Downtown

Located at the southern end of Manhattan, the Downtown area, also known as Lower Manhattan or the Financial District, is the beating heart of the global financial industry. Companies looking to build out their revenue management or sales offerings can conveniently find a space here close to the action. But it’s also much more than an economic hub.

Apart from Wall Street, the area includes the South Street Seaport, the oldest historic neighborhood in the city, which features shopping, dining, and nightlife—making it an attractive draw for visiting customers. Commuters can catch the ferry, which opens up a new talent pool for businesses looking to recruit and retain, while employees can enjoy a coffee while strolling through Battery Park, with its idyllic river views, before returning to work refreshed and ready to perform.

In addition to market powerhouses like Goldman Sachs, Spotify, and AIG, publishers like Conde Nast and telecom firms like Verizon all make Downtown their home. In other words, it’s an ideal place to network and connect with industry leaders. The area typically features skyscraper buildings with hybrid spaces that combine the traditional designs found in Midtown alongside the tech-enabled, eye-catching layouts of Flatiron.

Key Takeaway: If your company needs a unique space conveniently located near potential new customers, and competitively located near industry peers, Downtown is buzzing with client meetings and networking opportunities.

The Flexible Way Forward

New York will always be home to the largest, most successful enterprises in the world, but their path to greatness is ever changing. Developing workspaces across the culturally rich and diverse neighborhoods of Manhattan is a compelling way to infuse your workforce with flexibility, which increases competitive advantages, employee satisfaction, and brand impact. Consider coverage in Flatiron, Midtown, and Downtown to maximize the benefits of an urban location—and turn the city of New York into your new company campus.

Are you ready to try New York as your next campus? Check out some of these top-tier flexible workspaces from Knotel that can meet your business needs.