Chicago Flexible Office Space Report

Chicago’s diverse economy, ingrained preference for flexible work, and affordable office space, make it the fourth most searched market for flexible office space.

Chicago Flexible Office Market at a Glance
Lower cost of rent and office space compared to other markets.
Top 5 Searched
4th most searched flexible office market
Supply Growth
2X increase in flexible office space in the last year.

Kayley Carswell
Chicago has grown into its own small business and tech hub which is fantastic to see. It's completely different than Silicon Valley but has proven the ability to breed successful, billion dollar companies. What makes Chicago appealing versus coastal cities is the lower cost of living, ease of public transportation, and its cultural attraction, providing an incentive for businesses to conceive here. More co-working spaces in this city have also helped to breed this type of innovation.
Kayley Carswell
Sales Manager at Level Office

Chicago Market Overview

The Chicago market is attractive to many companies versus its coastal competitors. Compared to the same price in San Francisco, you can get double the amount of space in an apartment in Chicago, according to DNAInfo. Plus the public transportation is reliable and navigates to many different parts of the city. Chicago is not the right place to own a car for your daily commute, as the commute times are lengthy and parking options are limited. In fact, Chicago has the longest driver commute time of any US city, at 32.4 minutes. Chicago’s driving commute team is even longer than Philadelphia, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Additionally, rush hours are seemingly never ending. Rush hour stretches for 4 hours each morning and evening. The two major rush “hours” are from 6:30 am–10:30 am and 3:30 pm–7:30 pm, respectively. But don’t sweat it, Chicago’s transportation system is among the best. The Chicago Transit Authority can take you all over the city.

Chicago attracts and retains people for its fantastic food and cultural scene. Check out do312 for the latest list of music events, festivals and neighborhood happenings, or Eater for the latest restaurant openings.

Jonathan Pearce
Ivanhoé Cambridge prioritizes understanding current and future business needs. Today’s tenants are looking for flexible spaces that are conducive to collaboration, innovation and well-being, all whilst having a responsible sustainability footprint. Satellite workstations and short-term leases can help provide this flexibility, which is why Ivanhoé Cambridge has partnered with LiquidSpace to offer this innovative solution, and to help its tenants attract and retain top-tier talent.
Jonathan Pearce
Senior Vice President at Ivanhoé Cambridge
Chicago is Top 5 For Flexible Office Search

The bookable flexible office locations on LiquidSpace have doubled over the last year alone, as coworking operators, buildings and private businesses jump at the flex office opportunity. Today there are over 744 readily available to book and many more in the network. Chicago is the 4th top searched market for Flexible Office, behind New York, San Francisco, and LA respectively. It edges out Houston according to LiquidSpace search data, which rounds out the top 5. The average rent of flexible office is $242 per person per month. This makes Chicago affordable compared to the national average of $512 per person per month.

Flexible office location growth in the last year
Sep 2016 Nov 2016 Jan 2017 Mar 2017 May 2017 Jul 2017 Sep 2017 58 61 70 82 92 101 114

Ashley Jemes
Chicago is an international city, with many visitors and remote workers. I think the midwest is a little slower to pick up trends from the coasts, so companies based here are allowing more remote workers.
Ashley Jemes
Office Manager at OfficePort

Core and Flexible Office Trends in Chicago
Core – stable office space that companies rent out for terms spanning years mostly for headquarter spaces or established markets.
Flexible Office
Flexible – offices rented for spans of hours, months, and years. Companies use flexible office for: satellite space, expansion space, and to provide employees with mobility options.

Corporate real estate managers and the C-suite are beginning to build their real estate portfolios to include both core and flexible offices. Core refers to stable office space, which companies lease for terms spanning years. Core office is mostly devoted to headquarter spaces or established markets. Companies rent flexible offices for spans of hours, months and years for the purpose of satellite space, expansion space, and to provide employees with mobility. Flexible offices are often furnished, serviced workspaces – from coworking, serviced office, and direct from buildings.

Average Annual Cost per Worker in Chicago
Flexible Office

Renting flexible office space is often more affordable than renting traditional office space. The costs, however, are closer in Chicago than in other markets. Leasing of core office space has slowed down, and pre-leasing is at 31.2% according to JLL. Renters can expect to pay $39.66 per square foot of core office space in Chicago. At 150 square feet per employee the cost for a core space is about $5,949 per year. Whereas, the average price per person for flexible office space is $242, adding up to a more affordable $2,908 per year.

altSpace Fit-Out Solutions in Chicago

An area where LiquidSpace is adding to the available flexible office options is through altSpace. altSpace combines carefully curated office fit-outs with LiquidSpace-approved landlord and partner spaces. In addition to space and fit-out, the altSpace service layer provides design consultation, IT procurement and a dedicated LiquidSpace concierge to help manage a customer’s move and the facility manager’s needs, where we can alter existing space into flexible space.

Chicago is one city to benefit from altSpace as the tech and financial industries boom. To get insights into how a Fortune 500 company put their team culture first by leveraging altSpace read their customer success story. Building operators are adding flexibility to their asset portfolio to meet the evolving needs for flexibility from their customers. One example in Chicago of a building portfolio augmenting its flexible space is the Ivanhoe Cambridge building at 180 North LaSalle. The 38-story Class A office building is located in the highly regarded Central Loop / LaSalle Street submarket of downtown Chicago. Learn how you can leverage the altSpace program as a building owner.

Chad Cook
We didn’t have to do the same level of build out for altSpace that we normally do, so we could do a shorter term transaction and make it work from a profitability standpoint.
Chad Cook
Managing Member at Quadrant Investment Properties

Chicago Flexible Office Trends
Flexible Work Is an Ingrained Chicago Trend

Chicago is an international city. One that has for a long time worked with the coastal US hubs and also with the international ones. Thus flexible and remote work has been embraced for longer. According to the Chicago Tribune “the population of employees who work mostly from home has nearly doubled since 2005”. Because of this trend, flexible work is ingrained in the city’s DNA and is fueling Flexible Office growth in Chicago.

Chicago Flexible Office Trend

Michael Kelley
More and more flexible, freelance, and contract employment vs. conventional jobs.
Michael Kelley
Owner of Deora Concept

Chicago Has a Large and Diverse Economy

From manufacturing, to energy, to technology, Chicago is home to a diverse set of industries. Making Chicago the place to be through the ups-and-downs of economic lifecycles. Home to 34 companies off of the Fortune 500 list, Chicago also ranks above the coastal cities for ease of doing business. Two notable sectors in Chicago are Energy and Technology.


Renewables have increased 5X from 2005 as the total share of energy production. The state of Illinois is ranked 5th in the nation for installed wind power. Chicago claims the prize for top number of wind companies at 23, more than any US city according to WBC.

Chicago Energy

The largest employment growth 42% has been in the Technology sector from 91,783 employed in 2007, to 130,436 employed in 2016. With a total of 13,854 companies in the technology sector, significant year-over-year investment, and strong tech incubator focus, this core strength is here to stay.

Chicago Technology Growth

Dan Synwolt
Chicago has been a greater technical hub. Chicago is actually attracting business back. Alternatives markets have become more expensive do to supply/demand
Dan Synwolt
Owner of Office Evolution Chicago

Abundant Talent Access in Chicago

Several business schools including the Booth School of Business, the University of Chicago and the Kellogg School of Management churn out a yearly supply of new management and leadership talent that’s ready for Chicago’s diverse economy. Technology graduates from Columbia College and Northwestern University are becoming the backbone of Chicago’s technology growth. According to the Chicago Tribune more than a quarter of business school graduates, and over 50% of the technology program graduates stay to pursue careers in Chicago. In fact the KPMG disruptive technologies 2017 survey ranked Chicago as number 6 on the world’s innovation hubs to watch, ranking behind San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Chicago Abundant Talent Access

Jamie Hodari
A more remote workforce and the need for a regional footprint. Businesses are recognizing that the perfect person for a role may live in Chicago, even though HQ is in Seattle. Additionally, large brands keen on expanding to new markets or building regional sales teams, need to provide employees with a home-base to work from. Both of these factors drive companies to seek shared workplaces, aimed at boosting productivity, creativity, and collaboration.
Jamie Hodari