Qualcomm Brings Workers Back to the Office While Getting in on Remote Technologies

Lou Hirsh

July 6, 2021

San Diego Chipmaker Eyes Phased Return of Employees in ‘Hybrid Work Environment’
Among San Diego's largest employers and real estate users, Qualcomm is counting on the return of in-office work mixed with new enhancements to remote-work technologies.

The new CEO of wireless chipmaker Qualcomm, the largest publicly traded company headquartered in San Diego, is planning a hybrid work environment as the company begins bringing its nearly 10,000 local employees back to the office this fall.

The company's plans reflect the generally mixed back-to-work approach by other tech-oriented firms with a large presence in California, as the state reopens its economy amid rising COVID-19 vaccinations.

“We hope to get back to the office, and we’re going to do it in phases,” said Cristiano Amon, who took the helm of the company July 1, during a media briefing at a wireless conference in Barcelona, Spain. The company has said it plans to move to a hybrid work model in coming months. Qualcomm did not immediately respond to CoStar News’ request for additional comment.

Companies including Apple, Amazon, Google, Uber and Microsoft have all announced some form of mixed, gradual return to office life in their corporate hubs, as employees are permitted to use remote technologies for at least part of their work weeks.

Qualcomm has a global workforce of nearly 40,000, with about one-quarter of those based in San Diego. It posted revenue of $23.5 billion in 2020, down slightly from $24.3 billion in 2019, and it is one of several tech companies now benefiting from rising demand for 5G-related infrastructure and device components as systems are rolled out globally by major wireless carriers.

That demand has been heightened during the pandemic as people turned more to remote and online technologies for working, shopping and other daily tasks.

CoStar data shows Qualcomm is also among San Diego’s largest users of office and industrial real estate, occupying more than 3.1 million square feet. Ten of the 17 local buildings it occupies are owned by the company, and all but one of its locations are in its home base of Sorrento Mesa, with a branch office leased in Carlsbad.

The company in the past year has been expanding its Sorrento Mesa presence, renewing leases in locations it had planned just two years earlier to vacate amid layoffs that took place well before the pandemic.

Despite its rising physical presence in San Diego, the new CEO, who succeeded the retiring Steve Mollenkopf, said Qualcomm has its eye on yet more enhancements to the experience of remote working.

“We are convinced that once you have the 5G network built, the phone is going to evolve to allow the element of augmented reality glasses,” Amon said during the media briefing. “If you look at what’s happening with [virtual reality], we’re getting to scale.”

“Imagine you’re putting on [augmented reality] glasses and you can do a 3D reconstruction of your room, and on that, you can place objects around them — one of which could be a rendering of the person you’re going to have a Zoom meeting with,” Amon said. “It’s going to be another step function in the improvement of the quality of remote interaction.”