National Retailer REI Expands Remote Work Practices

As companies around the world rethink the future of physical office space, REI Co-op is moving forward with its plan to reimagine the future of work at the co-op.

REI announced last September that it had sold its newly completed corporate campus in Bellevue, Wash., with plans to shift to a more distributed work model. Recently, the co-op announced that it has both identified the first of its future satellite offices in Issaquah, Wash., and will test a model that allows employees to work up to five days a week from home. REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.) is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI serves more than 19 million members and operates 168 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia

“We believe the future of work is much more fluid,” said Chris Putur, REI’s executive vice president of technology and operations. “We’re building the future around the work that needs to get done, and creating flexible, agile, and inclusive ways to deliver innovation for our customers – and we no longer believe we need a traditional office model to do so.”

This new office space is the first of several planned satellites around the Puget Sound area. The office is surrounded by trail networks and sandwiched between Lake Sammamish Park and Cougar Mountain Wildland Park, with easy access to I-90 and public transit.

The co-op said it will use this first satellite location to test technology and prototype digital and physical spaces that unlock collaboration for people spread across a variety of locations.

While some essential on-site roles will require physical office space, most employees will have much more flexibility in where and how they log in for work, said REI executive. Instead of dedicated workspaces, each employee can choose the combination of locations that best suit their role, work, and team on a given day – including satellite offices, coffee shops, home offices, “or even local parks.”

“This will require us to adopt a completely different way of thinking, as we design a model that ensures every employee is just as engaged, connected and productive, whether they’re working from a home, improvised or REI office,” said Putur. “We see incredible possibility in this future – and we’re giving ourselves space to go explore it.”

Phoo courtesy of Rowley Properties