January 29, 2023

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Meta, Microsoft vacated US offices during WFH, massive layoffs: report

Both Meta and Microsoft have embraced remote working. (representative)

California:

Facebook parent Meta and Microsoft are vacating office buildings separately in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington — in the latest sign of change in the tech sector and softness in the office market here — according to The Seattle Times.

Facebook on Friday confirmed plans to sublet its offices in the six-story Arbor Block 333 in downtown Seattle, and in the 11-story Block 6 in Bellevue’s Spring District, Seattle Times mentioned.

The California-based social media giant, Menlo Park, said it is also reviewing leases for other office buildings in the Seattle area. A soft market is a stage in the economic cycle in which there are more sellers than buyers and lower prices.

Redmond-based Microsoft confirmed it would not renew the lease on the 26-story City Center Plaza in Bellevue when the lease expires in June 2024, The Seattle Times said on the same day.

The Seattle Times said the announcements come as remote work continues to become popular and a technological slowdown with massive layoffs dampens demand for office space in Seattle and elsewhere.

Meta and Microsoft have both embraced remote working while shrinking their workforces as the technology sector has progressed, according to the daily. In November, Meta announced layoffs of 726 Seattle-area workers.

Meta spokeswoman Tracy Clayton told The Seattle Times that the rental decisions were primarily driven by the company’s move toward remote or “distributed” work. But he acknowledged that, “given the economic climate,” Meta was also “trying to be… fiscally prudent.”

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Meta currently occupies all of Arbor Block 333 in Seattle and was going to occupy all of Block 6, which is scheduled to open later this year. The company still has offices in 29 buildings, and nearly 8,000 workers, in the Seattle area, which remains the company’s second-largest engineering hub outside of its Menlo Park headquarters, Clayton said.

A Microsoft spokesperson described its decision regarding City Center Plaza as part of an ongoing evaluation of “the company’s real estate portfolio to ensure an exceptional place to work and create greater collaboration and community for our employees.”

City Center Plaza’s decision also comes amid a massive redesign of Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, part of which will be completed in late 2023. But the daily said Friday’s news adds to an already grim outlook for the Seattle-area office market as it struggles against it. Economic headwinds and the slow return of remote office workers.

That struggle is most evident in downtown Seattle, where total job vacancies are now at 25 percent, according to a new report from commercial real estate agency Colliers.

Even offices that aren’t vacant are often half empty, the Seattle Times said, due to telecommuting. Since last summer, downtown Seattle has only about 40 percent of the workers present before the pandemic, according to mobile site data from Placer.ai published by the Downtown Seattle Association.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by the NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)