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NIRSA staff is preparing to transition permanently to a fully remote team.
The association has reached a purchase and sale agreement on the NIRSA Headquarters building at 4185 SW Research Way in Corvallis, Ore.
In March 2020, members of the NIRSA staff team were sent home in response to a global pandemic. Where and how work occurred shifted significantly and permanently. Though return-to-office options became available by summer 2021, remote work had become the more common arrangement and preferred option for staff. By extending our staffing beyond the Corvallis, Oregon area, we’ve been able to retain some staff members, and recruit from a broader pool of highly qualified new hires. Currently, only a third of the staff team (11 of the 30 staff members) live in or around the Corvallis area.
Given the success of remote work for NIRSA, in the fall of 2022 NIRSA leaders began considering the possibility of selling or leasing the NIRSA Headquarters building and transitioning Association Staff to a fully remote environment. Even before the coronavirus pandemic upended many of our workplace axioms, NIRSA had experience adapting to remote work arrangements for some members of the NIRSA Staff: although there are earlier examples for former employees, NIRSA’s current Director of Events & Experiences Sierra Smith and NIRSA’s current Communications Director Simon Bravo have been working remotely since 2014. So, when the pandemic hit and most non-essential businesses were shuttered, NIRSA was able to pivot quickly, and adapt to rapidly changing realities.
A new chapter in NIRSA history
The global pandemic accelerated some trends in association management and opened the door to many new opportunities. The business model for associations is changing as we confront new and lasting realities around the ways members engage and rising costs in core business areas. Like all associations in higher education, NIRSA is reexamining where and how we invest member dollars to return the highest value for NIRSA members.
Given the changing dynamic of NIRSA’s staff, and the evolving nature of association management work, maintaining a physical headquarters building is no longer the best use for Association resources. In February of 2023, the NIRSA Board of Directors formally sanctioned Association Staff to explore options for the sale or rental of the NIRSA Headquarters building. In November 2023, after receiving a formal offer to purchase the building, the Board authorized NIRSA’s Executive Director to negotiate the sale of the building within agreed upon parameters. Negotiations are currently ongoing. Selling the building allows NIRSA the opportunity to invest resources—like staff time and financial capital—into areas of greater value for members.
Breakthroughs in technology have certainly made remote work more effective. And accessing talent nationally has strengthened the NIRSA Staff Team. The transition to a fully remote workforce will have significant benefits for NIRSA members. Staff are now accessible in every time zone in North America, and they’ve been making in person connections with members in dozens of locales from coast to coast. Having staff living across the country gives NIRSA leadership insight into geographically based differences in culture and politics.
Remote employment will allow the organization to recruit from a larger pool of candidates when staff positions open. It is an important recruitment tool for highly qualified prospective employees, and a valuable retention tool for highly engaged members of our current staff.
Proceeds from the building’s sale will be reinvested into the Association to support its next 75 years. Be sure to attend the 2024 Annual Meeting of Members on April 3, 2024, for more information about plans for the Association’s future. Member engagement will continue to be critical to ensuring NIRSA’s future as the backbone of campus recreation.