plans to close three of its U.S. technology hubs and require hundreds of workers to relocate to keep their jobs, according to a memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The retailer will also begin to require all its technology workers to come into the office at least two days a week.
The retail behemoth will close offices that house technology staff in Austin, Texas; Carlsbad, Calif.; and Portland, Ore., according to a memo to staff last week from
Walmart’s global chief technology officer.
Walmart will pay for workers in those locations to transfer to other primary offices, such as San Bruno, Calif., or the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. The company hopes to relocate most of the workers, and some will be allowed to become full-time remote workers, a spokeswoman said. Those who leave will be given severance pay, she said.
“We’ve made the decision to focus our tech team’s presence within select locations,” said the spokeswoman. Rival
and other large technology firms have recently announced plans to cut thousands of jobs.
In addition, most of Walmart’s global technology workers will need to be in their assigned office at least two days a week, Mr. Kumar said in the memo. Many workers in Walmart’s Bentonville corporate headquarters have been required to work in-person five days a week since last year.
The shift is a sign that even for technology companies that earlier in the pandemic embraced remote work, in-person work and central offices will play a role going forward.
Activision Blizzard Inc.,
publisher of videogames such as “Call of Duty,” on Monday became the latest company to step up its in-office policy, notifying some employees that they would need to report to offices three days a week beginning in April.
The game giant’s move follows that of
Walt Disney Co.
, which said it would require workers to come to its offices four days a week beginning in March. Other employers, including financial giant Vanguard Group, have pushed employees in recent weeks to adhere to existing hybrid-work schedules, often at three days a week.
Last year, Walmart’s Mr. Kumar announced plans to open new tech hubs in Atlanta and Toronto and plans to add thousands more staff to his team, which he said was around 20,000 people globally. Before the closures, the company had 11 tech hubs in the U.S. and six abroad, according to its website.
Walmart has about 1.7 million U.S. workers, the majority hourly staff in stores and warehouses, and about 0.6 million other staff abroad. It recently announced plans to raise its minimum U.S. store wages, amid a tight job market for hourly workers.
Earlier in the pandemic, Mr. Kumar told its corporate technology staff that remote work would stick around longer than in other parts of the organization. The group aimed to make “virtual work the new normal for Global Technology,” Mr. Kumar said in a LinkedIn post in the spring of 2020. “We’ve decided that even as restrictions are lifted and other groups in Walmart eventually return to their offices, we will take our time, and think about how we can invent the workspace of the future.”
— Chip Cutter contributed to this article.
Write to Sarah Nassauer at [email protected]
Corrections & Amplifications
Walmart Inc. has around 1.7 million U.S. workers and 2.3 million total employees. A previous version of this article incorrectly said Walmart had 1.3 million U.S. workers and about 1 million overseas. (Corrected on Feb. 13)
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Appeared in the February 14, 2023, print edition as ‘Walmart to Shut Three Technology Hub Sites.’
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