REI Co-op announced Wednesday it is “pursuing a sale of its newly completed corporate campus in the Spring District neighborhood of Bellevue, Washington with the intention of shifting to a less centralized approach to its headquarters presence in the Seattle area.”
REI President and CEO Eric Artz explained in a video call with employees that “the dramatic events of 2020 have challenged us to reexamine and rethink every aspect of our business and many of the assumptions of the past. That includes where and how we work… As a result, our new experience of ‘headquarters’ will be very different than the one we imagined more than four years ago.”
Rather than keeping a single headquarters, the company is planning on having separate, smaller headquarter cells that would span multiple locations across the region. REI “will lean into remote working as an engrained, supported, and normalized model for headquarters employees, offering flexibility for more employees to live and work outside of the Puget Sound region and shrinking the co-op’s carbon footprint.”
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While the decision to move away from a traditional headquarters model was “motivated by recent learnings and a desire to create more flexibility for employees,” sale of the Bellevue campus will also have financial benefits for the co-op.
“[This year] we learned that the more distributed way of working we previously thought untenable will instead unlock incredible potential,” said Artz. “This will have immediate, positive impacts on our ability to attract and retain a diverse and highly skilled workforce, as we continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”