“The dramatic events of 2020 have challenged us to reconsider and rethink every aspect of our business and many of the assumptions of the past. That includes where and how we work, ”REI President and CEO Eric Artz said in a phone call with employees, according to a company statement.
Employees who would have worked on campus, which media reports had dubbed “the most outdoor SHQ ever” and “like a summer camp for adults” for its roof terraces, backyard full of native plants and large sliding doors for outside, had not yet received occupation. Like many office-based employees, they started working from home in March and were expected to move midway.
Some commercial real estate investors believe that other companies may pursue the lawsuit as employers grow smoothly with employee productivity and the ability to cooperate while working from home, all while allowing large cost savings.
“Owners of large corporate buildings are really starting to see that their employees really don̵7;t want to come to the office anymore,” said Rick Mirza, a commercial real estate investor and CEO of Daulat, a firm with private capital. “This feeling that we work somewhere, and it’s all this big tribe mentality – [some are] realizing that it is not so necessary “.
Ben Steele, chief REI client officer, said in an interview that the original idea for the new campus was to focus on collaboration, but “if I look at what we have seen and learned in the four years since then, [it’s that] collaboration can happen in many ways and does not necessarily require a single location. “
REI is structured as a member-owned cooperative and issues financial data on an annual basis.
Steele would not share specifics about the price REI demanded for the fully owned land and buildings, but said he expected to see a return on investment.
In the statement, REI said the sale would have financial benefits such as investing in new customer innovations – Steele indicated investing in its ancillary service or online business – as well as reducing its carbon footprint and supporting nonprofit partners.
This year REI temporarily closed all of its stores and took some money-saving measures, including executive pay cuts and unpaid leave for most of its retail and field employees. In May, REI said it expected to drop about 30 percent in 2020 revenue.
While the company has recovered 95 percent of its store employees from wool, and Artz said in Wednesday’s statement that REI was better than its initial revenue expectations for 2020, he also said in a letter to employees that “These dollars would also play an important role in stabilizing our business through the continuing impacts of current outages.”
“The pandemic is far away,” he added, “and it is important and prudent to ensure that the collaborator is prepared for the imminent safety of additional outages ahead.”
In the letter, Artz said that while remote work would become a more embraced, more “normalized” way of working for headquarters employees, REI was actively working to find two satellite locations in the Seattle area and for extend a lease on an existing site. For now, he wrote, REI expects most headquarters employees to work from home for the rest of this year and 2021, and would make work from locations beyond Seattle more viable “in the coming months and years.” .
“If you are like me, you lack a sense of community. You lack conversations in the hallway. You lack in-person work sessions,” Artz wrote. we find ourselves doing our best work, pursuing our passions in nature, serving our communities. “