REI to sell new headquarters in Bellevue and 'normalize' remote working model

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 24: REI's flagship store on October 24, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for REI)

REI announced Wednesday that it's selling its new eight-acre corporate campus in Bellevue and expanding a remote working model, also shifting company headquarters from a centralized hub to multiple offices across the Puget Sound region. 

Corporate employees have been working remotely since early March. REI's roughly 1,200 employees never got the chance to work at the new headquarters in Bellevue's Spring District. The move-in date was midsummer 2020. 

“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,” said REI President and CEO Eric Artz, in a video call with employees. “As a result, our new experience of “headquarters” will be very different than the one we imagined more than four years ago.” 

The company, which was based in Kent before the pandemic began, said the move also will offer more flexibility for corporate employees to live outside of western Washington while also shrinking the co-op's carbon footprint. 

“[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.” 

Artz said the sale of the Bellevue campus will also help with much-needed cash flow as retailers try to recover Covid losses. REI closed 161 stores across the country in response to the pandemic. The co-op says it was one of the last retailers to reopen.