Google's new $2 billion-plus New York headquarters
Google launched one of the biggest real estate deals in recent New York history: the purchase of a large building in Manhattan, next to the Hudson River, to build what will be its largest offices outside California (where its headquarters are currently located). According to The New York Times, Google will splash out a staggering $2.1 billion.
14,000 people will work at Google's latest New York headquarters. At the moment, Google and Alphabet - its parent company - have thousands of employees working from home, but this operation seems to herald a return to the office in the fairly near future.
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Google currently has several workplaces in New York. The main one is located in a building that used to belong to Port Authority. Google has also bought and refurbished Chelsea Market. If you put together both Google and Alphabet, they have an overall 22,000 employees in New York.
The announcement that Google is buying an office building has been greeted with enthusiasm in New York, a city that has been hit hard economically by the pandemic. Teleworking has caused large companies (Condé Nast and JPMorgan, for example) to give up their office spaces. Of course, this all translates into fewer business lunches, shop sales, etc.
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Before the pandemic, a million people got off each day in New York to head to their offices. That number has been eroded by the new home working schedule. But if Google decides to go back to the office, the city expects other companies to follow suit.
According to The New York Times, the combined workforce of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon results in a whopping 22,000 employees. Some reports suggest that, after Google, the other companies may also decide to return to their New York offices.
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The Delta variant, which has proven to be explosively contagious, has delayed the return to offices halfway around the world. Working from home continues. But all forecasts suggest that by 2022, large companies will decide to call their employees back to the office. Starting with Google.
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But hasn't everyone been saying that working from home was here to stay? In part, yes. Many companies will combine office-based work with home-based work. But leaving home to go to work is a crucial economic factor for many cities. Certainly in New York.
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Google's move to build a new headquarters in the city of skyscrapers is praised as a sign of the umpteenth revival of a city where Broadway musicals have (finally) reopened and where the New Yorkers are trying to attract the return of visitors and businesses.
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The New York Times gives the figure of 28% as the percentage of workers in the city who have returned to the office and forgotten how it was to work from home. There is still a long way to go.
Either way, Google maintains its Californian roots despite its big arrival in New York. The company's main headquarters will remain in Mountain View.
There was initially a lot of noise about the pandemic bringing in a new office concept. However, it seems that you can't teach an old dog new tricks and the old normal is making a comeback. Perhaps, employees will find new architecture and design with larger spaces, greater separation between employees and special care in the way the air is refreshed.
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has described Google's investment as "historic" and supported the deal through and through.
Past episodes of large investments in the city, which have left many frustrated, are now in the past. An example was Amazon's abandonment of ts project to build a large complex in Queens for thousands of workers in 2019. The project was stopped in its tracks by neighbourhood and union protests.
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Since the pandemic, the principled viewpoints against big tech corporations seem to have become a thing of the past. The city needs crisp dollars and its streets are to be filled with workers willing to spend on street food, expensive business lunches, taxis and shopping.
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And that's why New York welcomes Google's billion-dollar bid for the city. Its new offices by the Hudson River will be one more landmark on the skyline of an iconic city.
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