Google is doling out $1 billion to purchase London’s Central Saint Giles development, where it is currently a tenant, as the tech giant expresses optimism for a return to the office for its employees.
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“Based in London’s thriving West End, our investment in this striking Renzo Piano-designed development represents our continued confidence in the office as a place for in-person collaboration and connection,” Ronan Harris, Google’s vice president for the U.K. and Ireland, said in a blog post Friday.
Google will renovate the offices within Central Saint Giles over the next few years, with plans to add outdoor, covered working spaces as well as flexible spaces called “team pods,” which can be reconfigured for individual or collaborative work.
Google, which has more than 6,400 U.K.-based employees after adding 700 employees last year, expects to have the capacity for 10,000 employees across all of its U.K. sites. The purchase comes as Google has another London development currently under construction next to King’s Cross train station.
“Whilst the majority of our UK employees want to be on-site some of the time, they also want the flexibility of working from home a couple of days a week. Some of our people will want to be fully remote,” Harris added. “Our future UK workplace has room for all of those possibilities.”
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Google had planned for its global return to the office to start as early as Jan. 10, with workers expected to come in about three days per week as it embraced a hybrid workweek.
However, those plans have since been delayed as concerns have grown over the spread of the coronavirus’ omicron variant.