Google has said it will spend $1bn to purchase its office building near London’s Tottenham Court Road, in a big bet on its employees coming back to work.
The Silicon Valley giant is making the move even though it is also building a huge new headquarters in nearby King’s Cross because it believes in the office “as a place for in-person collaboration and connection”.
When put together with its other offices across the UK, the purchase of Central St Giles will give Google the capacity to host 10,000 workers. It currently employs 6,400 people in the UK, but said it had added nearly 700 positions in the past year and currently had 165 open roles.
The investment in Central Saint Giles comes despite uncertainty around the willingness of workers to return to the office.
In England, vacancy rates have edged up during the pandemic and millions of square foot of office space has been shuttered or converted to other uses, such as residential, as demand for workspace contracts.
Estate agencies expect that a shift towards more flexible work will make a large chunk of the market redundant in the next few years.
But high-end offices with strong environmental credentials have remained in demand from tenants and investors who have to meet more stringent emissions targets and compete in a war for talent.
Within Google, the company said, “some” UK employees had already decided to shift to remote work permanently. Globally, about 20 per…