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After delaying over crime concerns, Weyerhaeuser says workers will return to downtown Seattle office

SEATTLE, Washington (From news reports) -- Having paused reopening efforts last fall in part because of concerns about street crime in Seattle's downtown core, Weyerhaeuser will be returning to its Pioneer Square headquarters in April.

The timber company told employees this week that it plans to reopen its office more broadly and move to a "hybrid schedule" starting the week of April 18, communications director Karl Wirsing said.

The news comes the same week Microsoft and Expedia announced plans to fully reopen their own headquarters, with Redmond-based Microsoft headed back on Feb. 28 and Expedia reopening its Interbay headquarters starting April 4. Like Weyerhaeuser, those companies are also implementing a flexible policy for employees and managers to determine when and how often they work from the office.

After reopening its office on a voluntary basis with a 10% capacity cap, Weyerhaeuser hasn't fully returned to an in-person workforce due to concerns about COVID-19 and public safety around Pioneer Square, where it has been headquartered since 2016.

The company delayed plans to return to the office last fall, saying it wouldn't bring workers back without "significant and sustained improvements in neighborhood safety," according to an email chief administration officer Denise Merle sent employees.

At the time, reports of violent crime in Pioneer Square were up about 14% compared to the same time period the year before, based on data from the Seattle Police Department crime dashboard, but down 17% compared to the same time period in 2019. Reports of property crime were down 26% and 49% from 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Crime remains a problem downtown, with overall crime in Seattle rising 10% in 2021 over 2020, according to the Seattle Police Department's year end crime report released this month.

Ahead of the April deadline, Weyerhaeuser has set up commuting arrangements for workers to "ensure our people can commute safely," including more off-site parking and shuttles from local transportation hubs, Wirsing said in an email to The Seattle Times on Thursday.

Weyerhaeuser could not be reached for additional comment Friday.

The company, founded in 1900 in Tacoma, has 9,200 employees and manages 11 million acres of timberlands in the U.S. It reported net earnings of $2.6 billion, or $3.47 per diluted share, in 2021, according to a January announcement.

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