Financing

McDonald's is closing its field offices in the U.S. as it moves to a national model

The Chicago-based fast-food giant is eliminating its East-West zone structure and moving to a national field support model as part of its organizational restructuring in the U.S. Its 10 field offices across the country will now go virtual.
McDonald's layoffs
McDonald's is closing field offices across the U.S. as part of an organizational restructuring. / Photo by Jonathan Maze

McDonald’s is closing its field offices across the U.S. in the coming months and shifting to a centralized national structure as part of a broad organizational restructuring  put into motion this week.

The Chicago-based fast-food giant is keeping its 10 U.S. field support teams that work with operators across the country. But those employees will work remotely as the teams go virtual. And they will now operate under the guidance of a single, national field office headed by Myra Doria, who has been appointed national field president.

The company detailed these moves in a message to its U.S. operators on Thursday from the company’s U.S. president, Joe Erlinger, a copy of which was seen by Restaurant Business.

The changes are part of the company’s “Accelerating the Organization” plan, announced in early January and carried out this week after corporate offices were temporarily closed to communicate layoffs to affected employees. The number of layoffs remains uncertain, but a source with knowledge of the moves said the number was in the “hundreds.” The number was further clarified to “less than 1,000.”

McDonald’s has long overseen its field offices in two zones, one East and one West. Its move to a single, national structure is generating some of the layoffs being announced, to eliminate redundancies between the two groups.

“This week, we announced several changes to our company’s organizational structure,” Erlinger said in his message. “These decisions weren’t easy to make, but I am confident this is the right path forward to improve how we solve problems for our customers and people.”

Some of the employees being laid off have started making their fates public. On Thursday, Tim Andersen, a VP with the company whom one operator described as "the best operations mind at the company," announced on LinkedIn that he was let go, three years before his retirement

In closing physical field offices, McDonald’s is bowing to the reality of a post-pandemic environment. Most of its field officers spent most of their time out of the office, anyway, and employees were increasingly remote. Many of those employees work far from one of those offices as it is and the offices themselves are not well occupied.

McDonald’s field offices are in Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Long Beach, Calif.; Walnut Creek, Calif.; Nashville; Bethesda, Md.; Chicago; and Stamford, Conn.

It’s uncertain when the physical offices will be closed.

McDonald’s also named Michael Gonda chief impact officer for North America. Gonda, who had been global chief communications officer, will be a member of the U.S. senior leadership team as well as the company’s newly created “Global Impact” leadership team. The global impact team is designed to head off “external challenges,” including defending the company’s “business model.” But it will also oversee government relations, sustainability and ESG as well as philanthropy.

Sandy Rodriguez, VP of U.S. communications, will be the company’s new global chief communications officer.

McDonald’s is also establishing a “strategic insights and prioritization” function to improve decision-making and “address inefficiencies and redundancies.” The function will merge the company’s U.S. consumer insights, business insights and communications organizations. Jami Guthrie was named VP of strategic insights and prioritization to oversee that function.

The company is also changing the structure of its restaurant development department to ensure projects are completed more quickly, Erlinger said in his message.

The burger giant is eager to speed development across the U.S. after years of either stagnant or shrinking unit count. McDonald’s grew its restaurant count last year for the first time in years, a period in which the company shrunk by some 1,000 restaurants.

McDonald’s also changed the roles of nine executives within the U.S. business. And the company is eliminating a team that coordinates health benefits for licensees, though it plans to keep those benefits.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include news of one key layoff. 

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