Eco outfitter REI Co-op announced yesterday its intention to sell its recently constructed corporate campus in Bellevue’s Spring District, opting instead for a “less centralized approach.”

According to a co-op release, the move away from a spalling campus would spread its headquarters staff across multiple sites, allow flexibility and remote work, and reduce REI’s carbon footprint.

REI Co-op President and CEO Eric Artz. Photo courtesy of REI Co-op.

“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,” REI President and CEO Eric Artz, said during 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.”

In its 2016 plans for the campus, the co-op said it intended the 8-acre site between State Route 520 and Bel-Red Road to house its more than 1,400 Puget Sound area employees. The co-op’s vision was to create a “hub that is accessible, sustainable, and connected to the community.” Construction on the site began in 2018 with an expected move-in date of mid-summer 2020.

“(This year), we learned that the more distributed way of working we previously thought untenable will instead unlock incredible potential,” Artz said of the shift to a work-from-home model brought about by COVID-19. “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.”

Though the co-op’s decision to eschew a “traditional” headquarters model was motivated by recent changes in remote work protocols, the sale would benefit the company in myriad ways including investments in its customers, nonprofit partners, and its carbon goals

“This year has shown us our home is not a building,” Artz told employees. “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.”