Microsoft is continuing it’s organizational restructuring, and in doing so, the company is making room in some of its Bellevue locations. Part of Satya Nadella’s promise to the company as first time CEO was to compress the old level of bureaucratic stacking that occurred at Microsoft in years past. The idea was simple — reassign, relocate or remove the overabundance of middle management that typically mucked up product cycles. With that transition under way, Microsoft is now finding it has a lot of empty offices occupying space.
The Seattle Times is reporting that recently, Microsoft decided to move many of its employees to within Bellevue’s City Center, Bravern Towers, and its South Lake Union Offices. Perhaps this move was done to foster a more collaborative spirit within the company. On a more cynical note, maybe the company is preparing for leaner economic times ahead and forced consolidation is a necessity rather than a luxury. Whatever the reason, Microsoft is said to be planning to vacate Bravern 1 in Bellevue and sublease seven floors worth of office space. According to a listing found on the website of commercial real estate broker CBRE, Microsoft will be subleasing around 160,000 square feet of office space starting September of this year. To put things in perspective, Microsoft already leases 5 million square feet of space it owns in King County. Microsoft also holds around 10 million square feet of dedicated office space on its Redmond campus. The company is not hurting for space.
More revealing than Microsoft’s potential sublease initiative is its stark reversal of employee headcount and expansion efforts in Washington. Over the past decade, Microsoft’s employee headcount ballooned to over 110,000 globally. Often to the dismay of investors, Microsoft continued to grow its employee headcount annually. With new leadership involved, Microsoft has reduced that number to around 100,518, possibly less. In Bellevue specifically, Microsoft went from 35,000 employees in 2007 to 43,000 at the end of last year. Since then, the company has seen that number retracted to 41,728.
As Microsoft restructures many of its driving revenue sources and looks to maximize profits, observers should note how the company handles its workforce. With Windows quickly becoming a SaaS driver along with most of Microsoft’s traditional services, the guaranteed quarterly increases will be in flux. A lighter, more streamlined workforce may be what Microsoft is aiming towards. Unfortunately, for Microsoft’s more recent hires like Acompli, Mojang, N-trig or 6Wunderkinder, they may find it easier to telecommute rather than finding an office in Washington.