Remember when Amazon turned the United States into a Thunderdome, with each state vying for the right to house the company’s next big headquarters and 25,000 jobs? Well, after laying off more than half that number, Amazon is slamming the brakes on HQ2 in Virginia, delaying the construction of three 22-story office towers.
The news came first reports Bloomberg. The first phase of construction, dubbed Metropolitan Park, is nearing completion and will house some 8,000 workers when it opens in June – assuming the new “three days a week” rule remains in place. The second, larger section, known as PenPlace, was originally supposed to break ground around now. But that has been postponed indefinitely.
Unfortunately, this also means the shaft-like “Helix” companion building to Seattle’s “Spheres” (known locally by a different name) is also being postponed.
While Amazon was adamant that “this shift is not a result or indication of job cuts,” it’s impossible to contemplate the decision without considering that the company recently laid off some 18,000 people across the company. . I asked if employees in Virginia were among the layoffs (it seems very likely), but I received no response.
This isn’t the only place where Amazon seems to have taken the lead in office space. Entire floors of the Seattle headquarters are vacant and construction on a new office tower in Bellevue (just east of Seattle) and in Nashville has halted.
It’s not alone, of course: Many tech companies built millions of square feet of new offices leading up to 2020. Amazon wasn’t even alone in going fishing to see which state would offer the biggest tax breaks (Washington State has leaned towards left and threatened new taxes, encouraging escape plans to friendlier regions).
And he’s not the only one who isn’t quite sure what to do in this new world of remote working, having invested really huge sums in office complexes that, it turns out, very few employees want or need. Simply forcing people to come to work has been one ‘solution’, kicking the can on the road at more expensive offices is another.
But Amazon has committed to bringing 25,000 jobs to HQ2 by 2030 and “our long-term intent and commitment remain unchanged,” the company wrote in a statement. A company as large and enduring as Amazon can weather the twin storms of macroeconomic conditions and the folly of its leadership’s business decisions, fill the sails on the next upswing and, when the time comes, take it like crazy. After all, there are tax benefits to be had!