Google is betting big on the future of offices. The company plans to spend $9.5 billion on offices and data centers in the U.S. and open up at least 12,000 new full-time jobs by the end of the year.
The company will spread its $9.5 billion investment across the country, which will go toward both building out existing spaces and constructing new ones. New spaces include offices in Atlanta, Austin and Portland, Oregon. Meanwhile, company offices and campuses already in operation in Pittsburgh, New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts, will all get upgrades. Data centers across the country will also see an influx of cash.
The building and data center investment also includes a commitment to ensuring Google reaches its climate goals. The company is pursuing having its new Sunnyvale, California, office certified by the International Living Future Institute. Among the building's novel design features are solar panels to cover an estimated 91% of its energy needs, construction with wood salvaged from the massive 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire and stormwater retention to reduce overall water demand.
Given the realities of the pandemic and the shift to working at home, investing billions in building out physical space might seem like an odd choice right now. Google CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged that even with the investment, the company will still allow employees to pursue more flexible work schedules. Google began bringing workers back to the office three days a week this month, despite resistance from some employees. In an effort to woo them, the company offered free e-scooters, though it did take away workers' beloved bidets in California to comply with state laws.
"It might seem counterintuitive to step up our investment in physical offices even as we embrace more flexibility in how we work," Pichai said in the blog post announcing the investments. "Yet we believe it’s more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that doing so will make for better products, a greater quality of life for our employees, and stronger communities."
Google is not the only company continuing to spend on offices despite the rise of remote and hybrid work. Meta is adding to its office space in New York, while Microsoft expanded across several states during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter grew its office presence in San Francisco, too.