Google’s new California offices bank on in-person work


A worker leaves a building at Google Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFP

MOUNTAIN VIEW, United States: Roofs coated with canopy-like solar panels and indoor spaces awash in sunlight: Google has bet big on in-person work with its sprawling new Silicon Valley offices.

AFP visited Google’s 1.1 million square foot (100,000 square metre) campus on June 27 as the tech giant welcomes employees back after pandemic-era telecommuting.

“Luckily, a lot of the things we were already planning kind of set us up for success with Covid,” said Michelle Kaufmann, Google director of development for built environments.

Architect Michelle Kaufmann, Google director of real estate research and development, leads a tour of Google Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFPArchitect Michelle Kaufmann, Google director of real estate research and development, leads a tour of Google Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFP

“Thank god, because otherwise we would have built these buildings and we would have to change,” she added.

The campus spans 42 acres (17 hectares) of leased federal land next to NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, close to the company's headquarters.

It includes an event center and small apartments that employees from out of town can use when visiting for work.

A visitor takes a photo during a tour of Google Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFPA visitor takes a photo during a tour of Google Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFP

Ventilation systems in the buildings use 100% outside air, a plus against the spread of Covid-19.

‘Not going empty’

Ground floors feature cafes, fitness centres, meeting rooms, social spaces and playful touches such as multi-coloured stationary bikes that people can pedal as they chat, with the option of plugging in to charge devices with power they generate.

Visitors ride stationary bikes at Google’s Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFPVisitors ride stationary bikes at Google’s Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFP

Upper floors of the two story structures are home to desks, with furniture and fixtures easily reconfigured as teams want.

Work areas are divided into “neighbourhoods” with homey touches and even “courtyards” with cozy furniture.

Workers take a break in a nautical themed common area at Google’s Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFPWorkers take a break in a nautical themed common area at Google’s Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFP

“The ground level is really like a market, so it’s more the vibrant,” Kaufmann said.

“Upstairs is more the quiet space where the teams really do a lot of their work,” she added.

Bay View campus is planned to accommodate 4,500 workers, with move in to take place during the coming weeks.

Solar shingles line a roof at Google’s Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFPSolar shingles line a roof at Google’s Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFP

Solar panels provide power, geothermal systems aid with heating and cooling and water collection and recycling systems result in surplus that is used to help restore wetlands on the property.

Google expects a norm going forward for people to typically work from the office about three days a week, with that rhythm changing depending on phases of projects and, of course, the tempo of the pandemic.

Artwork lines walls at Google Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFPArtwork lines walls at Google Bay View campus in Mountain View, California on June 27, 2022. — AFP

“I don’t believe that any of our buildings are going to be empty, that is not a problem that we are worried about,” Kaufmann said.

“We are more worried are we going to have enough space, just because the company is still growing,” she added.

Google has more than 45,000 employees in the Silicon Valley area. – AFP

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