REI To Sell Corporate HQ and ‘Lean In’ to Remote Working

Lisa Johnston
Editor-in-Chief, CGT
Lisa Johnston CGT
REI's retail store in Dublin, OH

REI is pursuing the sale of its corporate headquarters, making a move that’s reflective of today’s new work environment.

The sale is being completed in order to shift to a less centralized approach to its headquarters presence in the Seattle area, it said in a company post on its website. Instead of a single location, REI will focus more heavily on remote working and provide additional flexibility for employees to live and work outside of the area.

Given that it’s been cited as one of the best retailers to work for, the shift is keeping in theme with its REI’s culture.  

It will also, of course, have save the company — which is a co-cop — some money, with funds directed instead toward customer innovations, its non-profit partner network and its carbon goals.

REI, which operates 163 locations in 39 states, had not yet completed construction on its new corporate campus. It began the work in 2018 and had a targeted move-in date of this summer.

“The dramatic events of 2020 have challenged us to re-examine and rethink every aspect of our business and many of the assumptions of the past. That includes where and how we work,” said REI president and CEO Eric Artz. “As a result, our new experience of ‘headquarters’ will be very different than the one we imagined more than four years ago.”

Like many retailers, REI corporate employees began working at home in March as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The shift — which Artz described as one “previously thought untenable” — is expected by the company to also benefit its ability to retain a diverse and skilled workforce.

 “This year has shown us our home is not a building,” said Artz. “Our home is wherever we find ourselves doing our best work, pursuing our outdoor passions, serving our communities. Serving each other. That is what we will build around as we move forward—and as we accelerate into what’s next.”

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