Google expects a return to the office for around 10,000 staff, as it has announced its purchase of the Central Saint Giles building in London for £730 million ($1 billion).

It expects the offices to be a space for around 10,000 staff. At the moment, the tech firm has 6,400 people working in the UK, but says it has 165 open roles and in the past year grew its workforce by 700. It has been in talks to buy the office complex in Holborn since October 2020. Google has said it believes in the office “as a place for in-person collaboration and connection”. 

20 percent of Google’s global employees have been given work from home roles, but recently the company said it wanted a more hybrid model and would aim for three days a week in the office.

Google has been a tenant at the Central Saint Giles site, leasing 160,000 sq ft but says it does not expect the rest of tenants to change because of the purchase. However,part of Google’s future plans for the site include a multi-million pound refurbishment of the offices. This will be a spacious area for offices, with covered outdoor workspaces and “inclusive meeting rooms for hybrid working”

Its new King’s Cross development, which will be its London headquarters is currently under construction has been reported to be state-of-the-art; the tech firm wants the Central Saint Giles site to be on par.

The development will be a tall, glass building next to the Kings Cross Station railway lines and 20 meters taller than the Shard, but five years after breaking ground it does not have a completion date.

Google’s chief financial officer, Ruth Porat said in a statement: “We have been privileged to operate in the UK for nearly 20 years, and our purchase of the Central Saint Giles development reflects our continued commitment to the country’s growth and success” 

She added: She added: “Our focus remains on creating flexible workspaces that foster innovation, creativity and inclusivity.”

Google is not the only tech firm that supports a return to the office, the communication platform Zoom’s Head of UK & Ireland Phil Perry said last month: “We’re fully on board with offices reopening in 2022 – if it is safe to do so. In fact, we’re encouraging our own employees to return to the office by preparing for a hybrid approach that strategically mixes remote and in-office work.”

He added: “Flexibility has become more of a vital priority throughout 2021 as employee expectations have risen in line with changing circumstances borne from the pandemic. But too many people are associating this with remote work only, rather than understanding that both the office and home play a vital role in the future workplace.”

Perry also praised the government’s consultation on the right to request flexible working: “With the government’s consultation on the right to request flexible work from day one underway, we can expect to see more developments in this space. It’s now up to businesses to create an environment that existing employees and new talent want to work in. And those that successfully do so will reap the benefits.”