Sixteen floors and almost 900,000 square feet for the home office employees? I seem to recall a fire broke out at the home office about 10 years ago. Only "essential" employees could go to work for a 3 week period with everyone else told to stay home. Funny, planes still flew, operations continued, and paychecks were delivered on time.
All this leads to the question: If everything still contiued and only a handfull of the 4,000 employees were really working, then why are the rest needed? Now they want more real estate for the majority who obviously are not needed?
Your post makes it clear that you have absolutely no idea what goes on behind the scenes and all the departments it takes to make an airline work. Before a flight ever takes to the sky, before a flight is even scheduled, or even announced as a new destination so many people behind the scenes that you never hear of have spent months if not years working just to make it happen. Also UA even 10 years ago had satellite locations in several suburbs, fast forward to today if something were to happen at Willis Tower there is a satellite location at another office building in downtown Chicago (I'm not revealing the location on purpose), there is also Elk Grove Village campus, there is also another satellite location in another Chicago suburb. Last but not least if necessary UA could run this entire airline from campuses and satellite locations in Houston. So while you might think people were staying home doing nothing I can guarantee you that was not the case some people were working from home while others reported to airports operation centers or satellite locations.
I know my coworkers who are originally from Houston will be disappointed with this news. I'm a native Chicagoan and I'm disappointed I was hoping UA would move HQ to Houston just because I'm tired of the high cost of living in the entire Chicagoland area. Chicago use to be an affordable city now if you want to live in a nice relatively safe area of the city like the South Loop, West Loop, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Andersonville or any of the other safe neighborhoods housing prices and rent prices are sky high. To find affordable (cheap) housing or apartments in Chicago one would need to live in a crime ridden neighborhood. Next property taxes for us homeowners are ridiculously high in Cook County and finally thanks to the incompetence and corruption at City Hall, Chicago laden with debt is charging taxes and fees on just abut everything there is even a bottle water tax. I was so hoping for Houston but now that is not going to happen.