Despite lingering and tired tales of the downturn, combined with a wait-and-see attitude about Alberta’s new government and the realities of Calgary’s new economy, there is positive momentum and trending when it comes to the recovery – Calgary continues as a globally-respected business hub with the second-largest head office concentration in Canada.
“The significance of a head office says a lot about a company’s pedigree, history and about company culture,” notes Rick Urbanczyk, executive vice president of JLL Calgary Office Leasing, the entrepreneurial world leader in real estate services.
“The location of a head office used to partially be a matter of business prestige. In contemporary business, it is a matter of necessity and market relevance. Head office is where the industry relevance and the talent is.
“Our market is tied in to the energy sector and Calgary business – the law firms, the IT firms, the oilfield service operations and the accounting and engineering firms – is tremendously impacted by the energy market.”
Calgary business leaders and insiders agree on a key aspect about head offices: times have changed and they continue to change. Part of the Calgary recovery is embracing change in the many business ways of doing things.
“Calgary is known for its grit and determination,” says Sandip Lalli, Calgary Chamber president and CEO. “We know that businesses in Calgary want to grow. Creating the catalyst for this growth, we need to open up access to new markets and embrace technological innovations – and Calgary will continue to be an economic hub.”
Urbanczyk is enthusiastic about the many business community changes and the solid Calgary edge for dynamic head offices. “There are many positives and favourable Calgary factors. Our office space market is at lower costs. And it’s no secret that, for business in general and particularly for head offices, rent is the second-largest line item, behind staff.
“Of course, a key head office aspect is staffing, and the Calgary employment pool has broadened. We now have a larger and more qualified staff pool than ever,” he adds. “Calgary is such a dynamic city with unique networking opportunities. You’re one connection away from someone in another company. And the perfect demographics. The Calgary lifestyle, including the opportunity to be outside 365 days a year, definitely attracts a younger talent pool.”
Lalli acknowledges that Calgary businesses, as well as its head offices, are continually evolving. She notes that expanded communications infrastructure and artificial intelligence innovations are creating opportunities for businesses to operate much differently than before, particularly with new options for working remotely.
Although Urbanczyk’s JLL expertise focuses on the volume of available Calgary commercial office space, he highlights some relevant key factors about head office space. “Every company’s needs and priorities are different and every company culture is different. Contemporary office space is for new efficiencies – specifics like boardrooms, meeting rooms and call rooms, and hot-desking with an assigned floor for certain functions but different desk space each day.
“Technology is impacting commercial real estate and helps companies be more connected and efficient [while giving] staff better places to work,” he points out.
The Calgary Chamber underscores the dynamics of Calgary’s new business climate. “Head offices will always have a vital role to play in Calgary’s business community,” Lalli adds.