For some businesses, maintaining a physical presence in the second-largest market in the United States is not just nice to have: it’s a requirement. Los Angeles, the former leader in the entertainment economy, is now a hub for technology, fashion, shipping, distribution, and manufacturing. It’s easy to see why so many businesses are renting office space or in this city.
Between 2010 and 2017, California’s population increased by an average of 333,000 new residents annually. And Los Angeles—the largest county in the state—feels the impact in both traffic congestion and housing. Before planting your flag in the City of Angels, familiarize yourself with basics about location and commuting for the wellbeing of your employees and the success of your business.
Why Los Angeles has a traffic problem
The city’s reputation for traffic is well deserved; when you drive around Los Angeles, you’ll experience a spider web of clogged, complex roads. If you don’t plan accordingly, this maze can hobble your business. We’ll explain how to avoid this, but first we’ll illustrate the traffic situation.
The City of Angels is home to about four million people, and 84 percent of themdrive to work. Local drivers spend a whopping 128 hours in congested trafficeach year. The three most congested roads are:
- Interstate 405, which connects north and south L.A.
- Route 101, also known as the “Hollywood freeway”
- Interstate 110, which connects Los Angeles to San Pedro and Pasadena.
During rush hour in Los Angeles, travel speeds slow to less than 30 miles per hour on average. Compare that to optimal traffic conditions in L.A., where speeds approach 60 miles per hour. That means it takes commuters twice as long to commute during peak times.
The costs of L.A.’s traffic is staggering
Congestion on Los Angeles’s roads and highways comes with costs to both employers and workers. Here are three ways it can impact the health and wellbeing of your workers, as well as your bottom line.
- Pollution and physical health: Driving on the freeways in L.A. exposes you to pollution levels 5-10 times higherthan surrounding areas. If your vehicle’s ventilation system is drawing in outside air, you could be breathing in up to 80 percent of the pollution found in the air around you. This exposure increases your risk of cancer, asthma, and heart disease. In addition to moral concerns, sick employees lead to higher healthcare costs and missed workdays.
- Traffic and mental health: Excessive commute times have been linked to increased stress and fatigue. This could affect workplace productivity.
- Costs to commuters: INRIX’s Traffic Scorecardestimates that congestion costs each driver $1,788 per year. It costs employers, too: traffic issues make employees late, which is lost production time for the employer, and any materials or products shipped in or out lose time in transit and rake up extra fuel costs.
As you can see, the more you can eliminate traffic headaches for your workforce, the easier you’ll attract and retain top talent to ensure a happy, productive team.
Commuting factors to consider in Los Angeles
In addition to traffic congestion, Los Angeles also has a housing problem. The city is notorious for offering high housing prices and low vacancies, making competition fierce. This means that many of your employees will be commuting from outside the city limits, leading to more time on the road.
If you’re renting commercial office space in L.A., the best thing you can do for your employees’ commutes is to minimize time on the three main freeways (again, that’s Interstate 405, Route 101, and Interstate 110). Also, avoid downtown, if it makes business sense to do so. The 17-mile commute from Woodland Hills to downtown Los Angeles on the 101 can take a mind-bending 90 minutes on an average weekday.
You can reduce some commute time by instilling a flexible work policy, such as remote working or off-peak scheduling. If your employees can do their jobs at home when they have obligations that would complicate their daily commute, allowing them that freedom will greatly enhance their job satisfaction and productivity.
Unfortunately, flexible work policies won’t solve all commuting issues when renting office space in L.A. To save time and money (not to mention, your employees’ sanity), we recommend locating in an offbeat, but accessible neighborhood in Greater L.A., such as Woodland Hills. Many Angelenos enjoy this neighborhood, bordered by the Santa Monica Mountains and West Hills. In particular, commuting to Woodland Hills is ideal because your workers would get the reverse-commute experience, leading them down the winding roads in the opposite direction of traffic.
Burbank is another great option. Setting up shop in Burbank allows your team to live in popular surrounding areas, like Studio City, Encino, or Pasadena. They’ll also experience an east-west commute, which spares them—and you—tedious daily journeys to downtown.
Other factors to consider:
- Where your employees live: If you already have employees, it’s fairly easy to map out where they live and find a location that will work for most, if not everyone. If you’re hiring from scratch, you can wait to choose a location until you know where your talent pool resides, or secure a flexible workspace with month-to-month options until you are done hiring.
- Where the industry hubs are: You may not have tons of flexibility if you’re in an industry with a large hub, like Burbank and entertainment or Silicon Beach and tech. The good news is, in those cases, your talent pool will understand.
- Walkability: With 7200 miles of sidewalk, the City of Angels is very walkable. A recently launched $1.4 billion sidewalk repair initiative will further strengthen the condition of L.A.’s walkways. The areas that are most lauded for walkability include Downtown Los Angeles, Silicon Beach, and MacArthur Park.
- Mass transit: It might be surprising that the “city of cars” has such an efficient public transit system. Locating your business near a light rail, subway, or bus line could make your employees’ commute much more bearable. In Los Angeles, commuter-friendly mass transit consists of the Metro bus line and the Metro rail lines. There are 13,978 bus stops in Greater Los Angeles and 93 rail stations along four light rail and two subway lines.
- Biking: Los Angeles is not viewed as the most bike-friendly city in the USA, but it offers 562.25 miles of off-street bike paths complemented by bike-sharing programs that are gaining in popularity. Estimates are that about one percent of Angelenos commute by bike.
Finding commercial office space in Los Angeles
The best places to live and work in Los Angeles are ones that make the daily commute manageable, and that requires a creative approach to selecting your office location. WeWork’s Los Angeles office locations are situated in the city’s most desirable neighborhoods, close to public transportation, and include amenities such as on-site bike storage and convenient parking.