Google bets big on the office with $1bn investment in London

Company's work space will undergo multimillion-pound refurbishment to create hybrid zone

Google said the move means it will have capacity for 10,000 employees in the UK. AP
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Technology company Google is betting on an eventual return to the office with the £762.5 million ($1 billion) purchase of the London site where it is currently a tenant.

Due to Covid-19 lockdowns, the future of the office had been up in the air but on Friday, Google bet big on work eventually returning to normal.

“We want to reinvigorate the work environment. We're making this commitment to rebuild. We're buying these buildings and we're keen to see everybody come back in and see a vibrant workspace again,” said Google's UK boss Ronan Harris.

The purchase of the Central St Giles office is being made alongside a new development being built for the company in King's Cross.

Google said the move means it will have the capacity for 10,000 employees in the UK. It currently employs more than 6,400 people across the country.

The office will undergo the multimillion-pound refurbishment to create hybrid, flexible working spaces, as well as outdoor covered areas for people to work in the fresh air.

Google said it still expects about a fifth of its workforce to work remotely after the pandemic.

“We have been privileged to operate in the UK for nearly 20 years, and our purchase of the Central St Giles development reflects our continued commitment to the country's growth and success,” said Google senior vice president Ruth Porat.

“Our focus remains on creating flexible workspaces that foster innovation, creativity and inclusivity.”

As businesses look for new ways to work and stave off the effects of another lockdown or even the next pandemic, some sectors are more keen for a return to office life than others, particularly hospitality and brick-and-mortar retail.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “This investment in jobs from Google is a big vote of confidence in the UK as a world-leading tech hub.

“It is also proof that this country continues to be one of the most attractive places in the world for leading firms to grow their business.

“The tech sector will play a pivotal role in our future economy and help drive forward our recovery from the pandemic and we are committed to creating the right environment to ensure it continues to thrive.”

London's Mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “Google's latest investment in London is fantastic news sending a clear message that our capital is a global draw for investment, business and talent. This will help London maintain its position as a world leading technology hub.”

Updated: January 15, 2022, 4:00 PM