Abbott plans offices in Chicago’s Willis Tower

The medical device maker will keep its headquarters in the northern suburbs but says a downtown location works for employees who want to avoid a long commute.

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A sign at Abbott’s headquarters in Lake County.

Abbott said its Willis Tower space will accommodate up to 450 employees.

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Medical device maker Abbott will lease space in Willis Tower as a convenience for employees who don’t want to commute to the north suburban headquarters.

The company’s announcement Tuesday is another example of how large employers are recalibrating property needs after office staff adapted to working from home. Baxter International wants to sell its Deerfield corporate campus while Allstate has sold its Glenview property and plans smaller quarters in downtown Chicago.

Abbott said its Willis Tower space will accommodate up to 450 employees. It said the headquarters will remain in Lake County. A downtown office will encourage more employees to return to in-person work as the threat from COVID-19 recedes, the company said.

“We believe that Abbott does its best work when our employees can collaborate in person. It allows for increased innovation, relationship building and skills development,” spokesman Scott Stoffel said.

“At the same time, we want to continue to make it easier for more colleagues to balance their lives effectively, and we’ve listened closely to feedback from employees about how Abbott can help them do so through a range of flexible work options.”

Willis Tower will be convenient for current and future employees who live in the city, he said. Stoffel said the space is expected to be ready in the second half of 2023.

A source said the lease of more than 100,000 square feet includes offices on the 25th and 26th floors of Willis Tower. Representatives of EQ Office, which handles leasing for the tower, could not be reached for comment.

The 110-story building, Chicago’s tallest, in May showed off a $500 million renovation designed to make it more comfortable and appealing to people used to working from home. At the time, EQ executives said the tower was about 85% occupied, even though anchor tenant United Airlines had reduced space there as part of a plan to move its operations center to Arlington Heights, closer to O’Hare Airport.

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