IBM announced it will leave its WeWork outpost in Union Square in New York, Commercial Observer reports. The tech company is one of the first major organizations to forfeit real estate as the COVID-19 pandemic forced has employees to telework. IBM had occupied its office at 88 University Place for three years. It will vacate after Labor Day.
“The company continually looks at our real estate to ensure it services the needs of IBMers and how we serve our clients,” IBM spokesman Dough Shelton said in a statement. “WeWork was a terrific partner and we’re grateful for the WeWork Staff at 88 University, who served us during our tenure at that site.”
IBM told Business Insider its decision to leave the WeWork space was not because of job cuts or the Coronavirus pandemic. Instead the move was, “about making structural changes for IBM’s long-term competitiveness.” IBM plans to still lease space from WeWork in cities such as Chicago and London.
IBM’s departure is a sign of the times
COVID-19 might not have been why IBM left the WeWork space in Union Square, but the move is a lot like one others have made recently. A survey of more than 500 founders of venture-backed companies revealed that 66 percent of them are thinking of downsizing or getting rid of their office completely, according to Commercial Observer. Meanwhile, 71 percent of the founders said they would let their employees still work remotely even after their offices reopen.
Google told its employees they can expect to work from home for the rest of the year and Twitter is letting most of its 5,000-person staff do so permanently. Meanwhile, MasterCard and Morgan Stanley said they’re looking at decreasing their office space after the pandemic. Facebook announced half of its employee base will work from home full-time in the next five to 10 years.
As for WeWork, the setbacks continue to mount as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of its members from their flexible office space to their homes. The company has had to lay off employees since the health crisis began and another round of is planned in the future.