Starbucks is extending its work-from-home policy for its Seattle headquarters until October 2021 and envisions a more flexible workplace — and possibly, a smaller one — for employees when they return.
The announcement, which CEO Kevin Johnson shared with Starbucks’ roughly 4,000 corporate staff on Wednesday, lengthens the coffee company’s previous work-from-home timeline, which had run to January 2021.
The extension was driven both by evolving public-health guidance as well as plans to retrofit the company’s offices to give corporate employees the option of working at home or in the office. “This is more than a health and safety measure, but an intentional decision to help you manage your individual needs,” Johnson said in a letter to employees based at its headquarters, which is housed in the old Sears building in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood. The building has several other tenants.
The new layout will emphasize remote-working technologies and could include so-called hoteling features that will let employees reserve parking spots or space “where you can work for the day,” Johnson wrote.
Starbucks joins a number of global employers that are not only extending the work-from-home model but are also tinkering with their entire workplace concept.
In August, Kent-based outdoor retailer REI said it was selling its never-been-used Bellevue corporate campus (the buyer was Facebook) so it could “lean into remote working as an engrained, supported, and normalized model,” CEO Eric Artz said.
Some commercial real estate analysts have wondered whether the widespread use of the work-from-home model could lead big employers to reduce their reliance on costly commercial real estate even after the pandemic is over.
Johnson said Starbucks “is looking to use less floor space and more modern design,” a company spokesperson said, but added that no decisions have been made yet.
Starbucks regards its headquarters space as central to its organizational culture, and internal surveys show “a lot of excitement for people wanting to return to an updated and modernized workspace,” the spokesperson said.
This article has been updated to indicate that Starbucks is considering using less floor space in its redesigned headquarters.