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After Sweeping WFH Pronouncement, Synchrony Puts 200K SF Atlanta Office Up For Sublease

Last month, the CEO of Synchrony Financial announced that all of her firm's more than 16,000 employees would be allowed to work from home. The move would allow the consumer financial services company to reduce its global office footprint and save on real estate costs.

That decision's ripple effects have reached Atlanta.

4125 Windward Plaza, the more than 200K SF office building in Alpharetta being offered for sublease by Synchrony Financial.

Synchrony has placed its 203K SF office building in Alpharetta on the sublease market, Bisnow has learned. It is the largest block of sublease office space in Metro Atlanta, according to CoStar.

The firm is offering all of 4125 Windward Plaza, a five-story office building in the affluent Metro Atlanta suburb 22 miles from Downtown Atlanta. Synchrony has tapped Cushman & Wakefield to market the property, which is available to a prospective subtenant within 90 days, sources said.

An official from Cushman & Wakefield declined to comment. Officials with Synchrony didn't return calls seeking comment.

Synchrony CEO Margaret Keane announced in October the company's new permanent remote work strategy, which will allow some employees to work at home full time, while others will have access to hoteling sites or will report to offices a handful of days a week.

In a Nov. 18 CNBC op-ed, Keane wrote that Synchrony's shift to online-only work during the pandemic proved that the company could function with a remote workforce. 

"What surprised us more than anything was that nearly every role in our organization, including those we thought couldn’t be done from home, were being effectively done with a remote and distributed team," she wrote.

Keane added that hosting video meetings “was revelatory,” allowing more input from a broader swath of employees.

“Employees began making decisions faster as we ditched PowerPoint presentations in favor of deep dialogue, more listening and robust debate,” Keane wrote. “In addition, video meetings leveled the playing field for ideas, as people who previously had been too shy to speak up now blossomed in this virtual environment. Meetings became much more democratic and productive as a result.”

That is not what landlords want to hear as more and more companies begin to evaluate their own return to the office and how much a work-from-home platform will become ingrained in a post-pandemic world.

Already, Atlanta's sublease space market has skyrocketed, approaching the record of nearly 6M SF set during the Great Recession. As of September, 4.7M SF of office space was available for sublease in Metro Atlanta, up nearly 1M SF since June, according to CBRE.

Synchrony leads the pack in Atlanta with the single biggest sublease listing. The four other largest sublease blocks in Atlanta, according to CoStar are:

“I think working from home is working well for certain types of companies,” JLL Executive Managing Director Jeff Bellamy said.

While Synchrony is making this a permanent strategy, Bellamy said he doubts many other companies will be following suit once a vaccine is widely distributed. He cites a property he represents in Alpharetta, the 1.5M SF Sanctuary Park office complex, which only has one sublease listing, for 2,200 SF. That was put on the market before the pandemic, Bellamy said.

“Everybody else plans on coming back to work,” he said. “[Remote work is] a trend that office owners are not excited about. But I think overall our owners are fairly optimistic that it's short-term in nature. No one believes that the overwhelming trend will be to work from home.”