Shopify sheds Ottawa office space amid planned Toronto expansion

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Shopify plans to vacate its Ottawa headquarters on 150 Elgin Street and move to an office tower on Laurier Avenue, amid reports that the e-commerce giant is set to expand its Toronto presence.

The changes to its Ottawa office space comes shortly after Shopify reportedly exercised an option to expand in downtown Toronto.
 

Shopify and CBRE Ottawa’s managing director Shawn Hamilton confirmed to BetaKit the company’s decision to sublease its Elgin Street office, a CBRE property, where Shopify has a lease deal until 2026.

Shopify currently occupies several floors at 150 Elgin Street, in Ottawa’s central business district. The location has housed Shopify’s headquarters since 2014. Pre-COVID-19 and prior to the company’s shift to permanent work from home, the 170,000 square foot space served over 850 Shopify employees.

As first reported by the Ottawa Business Journal, Shopify will abandon its Elgin Street location, shifting its operations and headquarters to 234 Laurier Avenue. The company signed a multi-year lease, in 2017, for 18 floors at Laurier, totalling approximately 325,000 square feet. A Shopify spokesperson told BetaKit the company has no plans at this time to reduce its office space at Laurier, noting it “will be reimagined for our digital by default mindset.” Earlier this year, amid its shift to remote work, Shopify began referring to its offices as “recruitment hubs.”

The changes to its Ottawa office space comes shortly after the publicly-traded company reportedly exercised an option to expand its space at The Well in downtown Toronto, where the company is set to open an additional office in the city in 2022. BetaKit has not independently verified the claim and a Shopify spokesperson declined to respond to questions about the decision. At the same time, Shopify has confirmed it is transitioning out of its old Toronto Spadina Avenue office, which the company opened as the first of its locations in the city in 2014 at 35,600 sq. ft. Last year, Shopify opened a King Street West office, in downtown Toronto, to house around 450 employees.

“Ottawa remains an important talent market for us, it’s where Shopify was founded, and our 234 Laurier office will be reimagined for our digital by default mindset,” the Shopify spokesperson told BetaKit. “As we move to a decentralized, remote way of working, the reality is that most people will be working from home versus coming into the office on a daily, recurring basis.”

RELATED: Shopify cuts office staff amid remote work shift

In May, when Shopify announced its permanent remote work shift, Shopify’s chief talent officer Brittany Forsyth said that despite the company’s move to decentralized work, it remained committed to retaining its current and future “recruitment hubs” across the country, in Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, Montreal, and Vancouver.

However, on Shopify’s Q2 2020 financial call, CFO Amy Shapero said the company would be “exiting” some of its office locations, though did not identify which would be affected. A Shopify spokesperson later told BetaKit that Shopify is “committed to retaining a physical presence” in each major city it currently has spaces in, which includes Ottawa, Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, Vancouver New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Vilnius, and Berlin.

Shapero also noted on the call that Shopify did not plan to make any further changes to its offices in 2020.

In August, BetaKit reported that Shopify laid off approximately 30 to 50 internal operations staff. Employees working in office management and technical maintenance for in-office employees were the most affected, with workers in marketing hit as well.

A Shopify spokesperson at the time attributed the decision to Shopify’s shift to a permanent remote work model. They added that despite the changes the workforce shift would not curtail Shopify’s hiring goals, which include plans to hire 1,000 in British Columbia, over 1,000 in Ontario, “and more.”

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh is a journalist interested in telling Canadian business and tech stories. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.