Google is splashing the cash in the UK with a billion-dollar purchase of a London property as the ad biz looks to the office as “a place for in-person collaboration and connection.”

The UK arm of the Chocolate Factory, which paid £50.4m in taxes for the year ended 30 June 2020, is spread over a number of sites and currently has over 6,400 employees. It is planning to expand its capacity for 10,000 staffers.

The commitment to getting people back into offices stands a little in contrast to other employers, and the frequent surveys showing that many workers are quite happy working remotely. For Google, the keyword is flexibility.

“Whilst the majority of our UK employees want to be on-site some of the time,” the ad slinger said, working from home for “a couple” of days might also be required. And there are, of course, those who are happy being fully remote.

To lure staffers back to the office, the company is also planning to spend millions revamping its offices, replete with “new types of collaboration spaces for in-person teamwork” and the slightly alarming-sounding “team pods.”

Covered outdoor working spaces will permit work in the fresh air for those hardy souls willing to brave the unpredictable British climate.

Helena Nimmo, CIO of consulting and development outfit Endava, commended Google on the investment into its office environment, saying: “To be fully optimised for a hybrid work setup, what businesses need to focus on isn’t a simple transformation of their digital setup, but constant and continuous change that takes employees experiences and feedback into account.”

If only Google had access to a near-ubiquitous information gathering platform.

Google isn’t alone as companies seek to bring employees back to the office, even for just a few days a week. Microsoft unveiled its shiny new Stockholm HQ mere months before the pandemic hit with space for only 237 of the approximately 600 workers it employed in the region in anticipation of a remote working future.

At time of writing, England remains in “Plan B” measures, with “people asked to work from home if they can.”

This week it emerged that Facebook-parent Meta Platform has delayed employees’ return to the office due to the outbreak of the omicron variant, and will require staff to provide proof of booster vaccination before heading into its premises.

Late last year Google introduced a draconian policy for staff that refuse to have the vaccine – get it or leave. ®

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