After a century in Massachusetts, the Chattanooga-based Unum Insurance says that it will be closing down its Worcester office. In an email confirming the news, Unum spokeswoman Kelly Spencer wrote that the insurer’s roughly 400 Worcester employees would not be returning to the office. Instead, the company has opted to implement a new permanent work-from-home model.
“Remote work is a contemporary solution that strengthens our business resiliency and reduces costs, like building space and office expenses,” explained Ms. Spencer. “We’re proud of our Worcester heritage and to have been a key part of the revitalization of downtown, but our shrinking headcount and ability to work remotely means we don’t need physical space as much as we used to.”
In April of this year, Nationwide announced a permanent shift in how its employees work, by transitioning a majority of its workers to a Work-From-Home model.
One of the leading tenants in Worcester’s CitySquare Development
The announcement of Unum’s departure will likely be sorely felt in Massachusetts’ second-largest city. In 2013, the company entered into a 17-year lease of a 214,000 square foot office in Worcester’s CitySquare Development. Hailed at the time as a revitalization of downtown Worcester, the $563 million dollar CitySquare project created more than 2.2 million square feet of mixed-use space.
When Unum moved into the $72 million dollar building seven years ago it had 700 employees. By the time of the state-mandated shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the company had but 400 working in the same amount of space. As a result, Ms. Spencer said the pandemic simply sped up a decision that was already on the table for the insurer and confirmed the company’s belief in a work-from-home solution.
“With the COVID-related transition to remote work, we’ve continued to perform efficiently with exceptional service levels – confirming our capability,
said Ms. Spencer.
As for its old office space, Unum Insurance will likely sublet the space for the duration of its lease which extends until 2030. As for Unum Insurance’s other New England-based office, located in Portland, Maine, it will remain open.