Google has reaffirmed its commitment to its new central London headquarters, a horizontal skyscraper known as the “landscraper”, and will move thousands of workers there once it is completed.
This is despite the tech firm’s decision to allow all of its global employees to work from home until July 2021. The vast majority of the US tech firm’s 4,500 UK employees continue to work remotely.
It is understood that Google has not yet reopened any of its five UK offices, which include four in the capital and one in Manchester.
Construction has resumed on the site next to London’s Kings Cross station, south of the Regent’s Canal, after it was temporarily paused during the lockdown. Google has not confirmed the completion date for the building, or when it expects to move in.
However, up to 7,000 workers, more than the number currently employed by the company in the UK, could be housed in the area, with up to 4,000 in the landscraper, with the others in Google’s existing Kings Cross office, and a third building nearby, which the company plans to move into.
The establishment of a Google campus in the area could accelerate the creation of a tech hub, with Facebook due to become a future neighbour with the development of its own building in Kings Cross.
It is understood that the switch to remote working during the pandemic has not altered the London office plans of the world’s largest social network, despite the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that some employees will permanently work remotely.
Like many of the capital’s prestigious commercial developments, the new Google HQ building has already earned itself a nickname.
The “landscraper” will stretch out for 330 metres, longer than the 310-metre height of the Shard skyscraper, alongside the railway lines that run in and out of Kings Cross station.
The building was designed in the studios of Thomas Heatherwick and Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who have also worked together on Google’s Californian headquarters in Mountain View.
The gleaming glass building will stand 11 storeys tall, topped with a roof garden, and will boast a 25-metre swimming pool, indoor basketball court and nap pods for weary staff.
However, in the medium-term, Google is content to let all of its 118,000 global full-time employees continue to work from home.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, the Google parent company, sent staff an email outlining the tech giant’s plans for the next 12 months.
“To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work-from-home option through 30 June 2021 for roles that don’t need to be in the office,” said a Google spokesperson.
A small number of workers who are required to be in the office have continued to work from the company’s sites.
Many other firms that occupied large offices were reassessing their requirements, said Graham Harle, global chief executive of property consultancy Gleeds.
“Clearly everyone is looking at their office space and how much they need,” said Harle, adding that staff surveys conducted by the consultancy’s clients showed a preference to work flexibly, splitting time between home and the office.