Kaiser Permanente to move 1,200 jobs from Downtown Oakland
In shift to remote work, nonprofit will move 10% of headquarters workforce to Pleasanton
In a blow to Oakland’s central city, Kaiser Permanente will pull 1,200 workers from its Downtown headquarters.
The city’s largest employer said it will move 10 percent of its Oakland workforce to its Pleasanton campus in 2024, a major setback to a city hoping to boost its economy after the pandemic, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The healthcare nonprofit blamed its shift on a hybrid work model allowing employees to work at the office and at home.
“As we continue to support remote and flexible work, our need for physical administrative space is significantly reduced and we are right-sizing our campuses,” Kaiser said in a statement.
Its headquarters at 1 Kaiser Plaza will remain in Oakland, according to the company, while employees who work in its national offices will relocate to the Kaiser hub, known as the Ordway Building, by Lake Merritt. Its medical center and care facilities won’t be impacted by the change.
The loss of Downtown jobs could put pressure on Oakland, which faces a $200 million budget deficit over the next two years because of rising expenditures.
Oakland, where a third of Downtown offices are vacant, isn’t alone. San Francisco also has struggled to bounce back from the pandemic and to boost its Downtown economy after businesses went remote. Because of the exodus by tech and finance firms, it has earned the moniker of “the most empty downtown in America.”
Newly elected Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao acknowledged that COVID has affected businesses in the city. She and Barb Leslie, president of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, agreed that Kaiser was still committed to Oakland.
“Decisions like these are not easy,” Leslie said in a statement, “but we understand the necessity as the complexity of running a business in a post-COVID environment continues to prove challenging.”
In 2020, Kaiser jettisoned plans for a $900 million headquarters in Oakland, a major blow to the local economy. The 1.6-million-square-foot tower would have been the city’s biggest commercial project.
Early this month, Thao said her administration will focus on boosting the economy by bringing more jobs to the city. She said COVID heightened existing problems and added new ones — from a slowing economy, an empty downtown and concerns about crime to increased homelessness and rising housing costs.
“It’s easy to throw up your hands and say you know, forget it, let’s just leave, let’s go to a different town,” Thao said. “But if you want to know one thing about me … I never give up. I’m determined to do the hard work.”
— Dana Bartholomew
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