Bechtel to move Houston office

Dive Brief:

  • Reston, Virginia-based contractor Bechtel will move its Houston operations to a new office space, according to the company.
  • Set to open by late 2023, the 205,000-square-foot space at CityWestPlace in Houston’s Westchase District is about half the size of the firm’s current office at 3000 Post Oak Boulevard, where the company has operated for 40 years, according to the Houston Chronicle.
  • However, the smaller size won’t mean any changes for the 1,500 employees in the Houston office, according to Thomas Novosad, CFO for Bechtel’s energy division, which is based in Houston.

Dive Insight:

Despite the impending move to a smaller space, Novosad said there are no plans to formally adjust employee schedules, something many U.S. corporations have done since the COVID-19 pandemic led many American workers to pivot to remote work.

“It really is based on business needs and for those teams, there’s not a one-size-fits-all [solution],” Novosad said.

Many U.S. corporations are cutting back on the amount of office space they are building or leasing due to pandemic-induced changes in the way their employees work. Corporations such as Amazon are taking some cautious steps back when it comes to building their new locations, and other large corporations are cutting space wholesale. 

Earlier this summer, Morgan Stanley forecast that work-from-home policies will cut into demand for office buildings, with vacancy rates in New York City reaching 10%-12% in the next two to five years from 8.7% now, and in San Francisco growing to 7%-9% from 5.8%, according to Reuters.

The big draw

Novosad said that Bechtel’s Houston division will be fully operational during the move, which he believes will allow for better cooperation between employees and teams, due in part to what he called the “world class amenities” at the space. Prior to moving, Novosad said, the company sent out surveys to employees in an attempt to see what they were looking for when it came to a new office.

“I’m sure we’ve all lived through those experiences where someone would say, ‘Surprise, here’s the new office.’ We’re definitely not trying to do that,” Novosad said.

A large part of the draw was the building’s energy-efficient capabilities, for which the space was awarded LEED-Gold certification. The CityWestPlace campus features a walking track, athletic fields, restaurants and more. 

The company, the No. 2 contractor in the country by revenue, posted mixed financial results earlier this year in the face of global economic issues as the industry and the world grapple with inflation and rising prices.

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