USAA headquarters in San Antonio. If stood on end, it would be 300 stories tall, three times the height of the Empire State Building. Photo courtesy of USAA.
USAA has over 36,000 employees across the globe, with the majority in the San Antonio area. Credit: Courtesy / USAA

So large it has its own zip code, the main campus of one of San Antonio’s biggest employers could soon start to feel roomier as the financial services firm returns to normal operations post-pandemic. 

Joining other corporations making decisions about what their workplaces will look like following the pandemic, USAA announced that some of its employees in San Antonio and seven other U.S. cities and around the world will continue to work remotely full time – as they have since March 2020. Some will return to the office, and others will split their time between home and office.

USAA said it is making the move as the company embarks on a process to “reimagine our workplace,” offering its 36,000 total employees greater flexibility in how and where they work, depending on their job. 

“Whether in an office, at home, or working in a hybrid manner, our goal is to enable employees to have greater flexibility and ability to continue to serve our members with excellence,” said USAA spokesman Christian Bove in an email.

Prior to the pandemic, about 20% of all USAA employees worked remotely. But when the coronavirus outbreak began in March 2020, 98% stayed home for nearly a year. Another large corporate employer in San Antonio, Valero Energy, brought workers back to the office starting in May 2020.

California-based Google recently announced that it plans to allow a fifth of its 140,000 employees to work from home permanently and another fifth to shift to another office location. The company is also adopting a hybrid workweek – a few days in the office, a few days at home.

USAA executives began a voluntary, phased-in return to the office in May, and all employees will be transitioned fully to the new work model through the end of this month. The total percentage of employees working remotely will fluctuate “due to a variety of factors,” Bove said.

For those returning to office life, USAA will not require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but is encouraging them to do so by providing paid time off to get the shots.

“We’ve taken a very deliberate, cautious approach to transition to our new ways of working,” Bove said. “Employee safety has been our priority throughout this pandemic and will continue to be our focus going forward as we closely monitor evolving medical guidance and improving pandemic conditions in our communities.”

With 5.2 million square feet of office space, the main campus in Northwest San Antonio opened in 1976 and is said to rival the Pentagon in size. As USAA and its membership grew, it added both square footage and workers, bringing the campus to full capacity. 

But last year’s pandemic forced nearly all USAA employees to abandon their cubicles in the Northwest San Antonio headquarters and other offices, including its newer downtown space where 900 people are assigned, and work from home. 

In 2017, USAA acquired the Bank of America Plaza building in downtown San Antonio to accommodate its continued growth and expanded its footprint in Plano and Tampa, Florida. 

More recently, the company announced it would establish an office in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is recruiting workers who will begin moving into that building by the end of the year. 

As for the sizable home office on Interstate 10, Bove said USAA has no plans to fill empty space in its buildings by leasing space to other businesses. And though not all employees will be returning to the main campus, USAA will continue to offer its full slate of employee amenities, including dining services, sundry shops, and fitness centers, he added. 

USAA is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...