Meta, Microsoft Vacate Office Buildings Over WFH, Massive Layoffs: Report

Meta, Microsoft Vacate Office Buildings Over WFH, Massive Layoffs: Report

Both Meta and Microsoft have embraced remote work. (Representative)


Facebook parent Meta and Microsoft are separately vacating office buildings 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 confirmed Friday plans to sublease its offices in the six-story Arbor Block 333 in downtown Seattle and the 11-story Block 6 Spring District in Bellevue, the Seattle Times reported.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media giant said it is also reviewing leases for other office buildings in the Seattle area. A soft market is a phase in the economic cycle characterized by more sellers than buyers and low prices.

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

The Seattle Times said the announcements come as the continued popularity of remote work and a tech slowdown with massive layoffs have reduced demand for office space in Seattle and elsewhere.

Both Meta and Microsoft have embraced remote work while reducing their workforces as the tech sector declines, according to the daily. In November, Meta announced the layoffs of 726 Seattle-area workers.

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

Meta currently occupies all of Arbor Block 333 in Seattle and would have occupied all of Block 6, which is slated to open later this year. The company still has offices in 29 buildings and about 8,000 workers in the Seattle area, which remains the company’s second-largest engineering center outside of its Menlo Park headquarters, Clayton said.

A Microsoft spokesperson characterized its decision for City Center Plaza as part of an ongoing evaluation of the firm’s “real estate portfolio” to ensure we provide an exceptional place to work and collaborate and greater community for our employees.

The City Center Plaza decision also comes amid a massive remodel of Microsoft’s Redmond campus, part of which will be completed by the end of 2023. But the daily newspaper said Friday’s news adds to an already poor forecast for the Seattle-area office market as it struggles against economic headwinds and the slow return of remote office workers.

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

The Seattle Times said that even non-vacant offices are often half-empty, due to telecommuting. As of last summer, downtown Seattle has only about 40 percent of the workers present before the pandemic, according to cellphone location data from posted by the Downtown Seattle Association.

(Other than the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a shared source.)

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