Google spending US$9.5b on offices, data centers, coaxing return-to-office plans

After spending US$7 billion last year, Alphabet Inc's Google plans to spend more this year across its US offices and data centers.
15 April 2022

This year, Google will spend US$9.5b in offices, data centers, as part of its return-to-office plans (Photo by SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

  • In some of the new offices in the US, the UK and Asia Pacific, Google is  mandating working from the office for about three days a week.
  • The investment will create at least 12,000 full-time jobs in 2022.
  • Data centers will be in several states including Nevada, Nebraska and Virginia.
  • Google’s new office will commence in Atlanta this year, while its existing data center in Storey County, Nevada will be expanded.

It has been two years since many businesses sent their office workers home and as that era is coming to an end to make way for a more hybrid work routine, companies, especially tech giants, have been going out of their way just to woo employees to return to office once again. Alphabet Inc’s Google is even planning on investing close to US$10 billion across its US offices and data centers to welcome back its workforce throughout the rest of this year.

Google started with tackling a new set of policies rolled out mid last year through a  blog post by the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai. To recall, Google’s workforce has been almost entirely remote since the beginning of the pandemic, and the company had previously said that it was planning for its employees to return to the office in September 2021.

But the company changed its stance and has said that it will allow employees to choose where they want to work. If they want to return to the office, they can. “We’ll move to a hybrid work week where most Googlers spend approximately three days in the office and two days wherever they work best,” he said.

In short, Google expects around 20% of its workforce to remain remote on a permanent basis. “Taken together these changes will result in a workforce where around 60% of Googlers are coming together in the office a few days a week, another 20% are working in new office locations, and 20% are working from home,” he added.

Hybrid doesn’t mean reduced investment in Google offices

Within the last five years alone, in the US, Google has invested more than US$37 billion in their offices and data centers around 26 states, creating over 40,000 full-time jobs. That is on top of the more than US$40 billion in research and development they have invested in the states between 2020 and 2021.

This year, in the spirit of its workforce returning to office, the search engine behemoth plans to invest approximately US$9.5 billion in their US offices and data centers throughout this year alone. That in turn, according to Pichai, could spur the creation of at least 12,000 new full-time Google jobs by the end of the year, “and thousands more among our local suppliers, partners and communities,” he added.

While it does seem counterintuitive to step up their investment in physical offices even as Google embraces more flexibility in how they work, Pichai believes it’s more important than ever to invest in their campuses. “Doing so will make for better products, a greater quality of life for our employees, and stronger communities,” he noted.

Google is also working towards running their offices and data centers on carbon-free energy 24/7 by 2030. :We’re aiming to set new standards for green building design — including pursuing certification through the International Living Future Institute for buildings like our new office in Sunnyvale, California,” Pichai said.

In terms of where Google will be investing throughout 2022, Pichai said it includes most of US’ regions including in the Midwest, East, Central and West region. “In Georgia, we’re opening our new Atlanta office this year and continuing to invest in our data center in Douglas County. In Texas, we’re also making progress on our new downtown Austin office, which is currently under construction, and continuing to invest in our Midlothian data center. And we’re continuing to invest in our data centers in Tennessee, Virginia and Oklahoma,” he noted.

Map of Google's offices and data centers in the US.

Map of Google’s offices and data centers in the US. Source: Google

Google will also continue to invest in their data centers in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and in Nebraska as well as in their long-term office presence in New York, while making improvements to our Cambridge and Pittsburgh campuses. In the Central Region, they will continue to build out their campus in Boulder.

As for California, Google will continue to invest in their offices and support affordable housing initiatives in the Bay Area as part of their US$1 billion housing commitment. Elsewhere on the West Coast, they have opened a new office in downtown Portland, and are continuing to invest in their data center in The Dalles. 

“We’re also investing in our Kirkland and Seattle campuses in Washington State. In Nevada, our data center in Storey County is now operational, with plans to expand it, and we’re investing more in our Henderson facility, too,” Pichai concluded.