Tech giants are hiring less and engineers have widely embraced remote working, but Google has just opened futuristic new offices in Silicon Valley, designed to meet all current and even future demands , of its employees.
In Mountain View, 1.5 km as the crow flies from its headquarters, the Californian group has had two huge tent-like buildings built in glass and metal, covered with solar panels in the shape of dragon scales.
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, did not reveal the amount that this “Bay View Campus” cost, planned to accommodate up to 4,500 employees.
“I think that none of our buildings will only be empty. We're not worried,” jokes Michelle Kaufmann, director of research and development for the company's offices, during a visit for the press.
“We are more worried about whether we will have enough space. Because the company continues to grow,” she added.
At the end of March, Alphabet had approximately 164,000 employees worldwide (+17% in one year). In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, 45,000 people work for the tech giant.
Its neighbor Meta (Facebook, Instagram) and other large digital companies (Microsoft, Amazon, Nvidia, Snap, Uber, etc.) recently announced a slowdown in the pace of recruitment due to the unfavorable economic context, after hiring at arm's length during the pandemic.
Connections and disconnections
Several companies, such as Twitter in San Francisco, have left the door open to telecommuting because many engineers prefer this operation. Some are also having trouble bringing the teams back in person, in particular because of the fear of the Covid.
“I believe that 10% of the staff (at Google) chose and obtained to work before everything from home,” noted Michelle Kaufmann.
She hopes that the new offices, designed well before the pandemic, will meet the expectations of other employees, who divide their week between face-to-face and teleworking.
The ground floor consists of restaurants, cafes, gyms and meeting rooms, spread around several “public plazas” — from “Dinosaur District” to “Neon Nature” — lined with sofas.
The floor hosts modular offices, separated by various pieces of furniture, but no walls, so that the teams have “the privacy they need” while remaining “connected to the rest of the community”, indicates the architect. /p>
Google hopes to encourage creativity and teamwork, with more solitary tasks being accomplished from home.
But beware of technology addiction: in the toilets, a notice gives advice on not being addicted to your phone and also warns against “email apnea” (when you hold your breath while checking your email) .
Recycled water, natural air
It took five years to build these buildings, with ambitious environmental specifications. Alphabet has indeed promised not to emit carbon dioxide at all by 2030.
This campus achieves carbon neutrality “90% of the time” thanks to solar panels and geothermal batteries. All non-potable water needs are met by recycled water produced on site.
And the ventilation systems use air 100% exterior, “instead of 20%” on average in offices, details Michelle Kaufmann.
A feature that comes at the right time, in the era of the pandemic.
“Luckily, a lot of things that we had planned are working wonderfully in relation to the Covid,” remarks the architect. “We thought we had ten more years for some elements, but the virus has accelerated the process.”
She assures that the workspaces have been designed with the flexibility to meet the needs that no one imagines yet.
So far, the “opera-like” acoustics are not disturbed by many employees, because the new campus has just opened.
Employees from other Google sites, when visiting for a few days, will be able to stay in one of the 240 apartments built just in front.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7128