Walmart intends to shut down three American technology hubs. As a result, hundreds of workers will have to relocate to keep their jobs. Tech hubs in Austin, Texas, Carlsbad, California, and Portland, Oregon, will be closed. Workers from those locations will be offered transfers to other primary offices in San Bruno, California, or the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. If employees choose to leave, Walmart will offer to pay for the transfers or severance pay. The Wall Street Journal reviewed a memo confirming the planned closings.
Workers at Walmart’s Bentonville corporate headquarters were mandated to work in the office for all five days of the week in 2022. According to Suresh Kumar, the retail giant’s global chief technology officer, most of Walmart’s global tech workers must be in their assigned office at least two days a week. This decision aligns with an overall trend for in-person work and central offices. Companies like Activision Blizzard Inc. and Walt Disney Co. have adopted similar in-office policies.
Before the closures, Walmart had six international tech hub locations and 11 in the U.S. The retailer reportedly plans to open new tech hubs in Atlanta and Toronto and add thousands more staff to its technology team — around 20,000 people globally. Walmart has over 1.5 million U.S. workers, mostly hourly staff in stores and warehouses, and just over a half-million other staff abroad. The company recently announced plans to raise its minimum U.S. wages amid a tough job market for hourly workers.
The move is a step back from Walmart’s previous stance on remote work when it had aimed to make “virtual work the new normal for global technology,” according to a 2020 LinkedIn post by Suresh Kumar. At the time, it looked like the group aimed to invent the workspace of the future. Now, it looks like Walmart is simply trying to keep up with the industry trend for in-person work.