Shopify CEO says working remotely is the future—so what about that massive Vancouver office?

The planned space is (was?) a massive investment in Vancouver's downtown core.

Credit: Tobias Lütke on Twitter

The planned space is (was?) a massive investment in Vancouver’s downtown core

Shopify is one of those lucky companies that appears to have been mostly unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ottawa-based e-commerce platform has employees all over the world (including several at a downtown Vancouver WeWork facility), many of whom work remotely.

So it probably didn’t come as a huge surprise when Shopify founder and CEO Tobias Lütke tweeted that “office centricity is over” and that the company will keep its offices closed until 2021, after which most staff will work remotely anyway.

Of course, that directly contradicts the announcement in January that Shopify would be opening a massive 70,000-square-foot office in Vancouver with more than 1,000 employees. The office (located at 1055 Dunsmuir Street) was supposed to open late this year, but those plans are now apparently in doubt.

We can only hope that Shopify didn’t sign the lease. At the very least, the company seems committed to keeping a recruiting hub in Vancouver, and Lütke in particular has kept his eye on B.C. businesses, even investing in 3D footwear outfit Casca Designs

There’s also the bigger question of whether other companies will follow suit and vacate larger centres like Vancouver. Could there actually be an excess of office space in B.C.’s biggest city? Seems like a bit of a stretch.  

But if Shopify was the poor city’s version of Amazon HQ2, this news hurts.