Datacenter and offices: why Google is putting nearly 10 billion dollars on the table in 2022

Construction underway on Google’s new urban campus in Kirkland, USA. Google

Google on Wednesday announced plans to spend about $9.5 billion this year on offices and data centers in the United States.

“It may seem counterintuitive to step up our investments in physical offices even as we embrace greater flexibility in the way we work,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post. “Yet we believe it is more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that this will lead to better products, a better quality of life for our employees and stronger communities.”

Over the past five years, Google has spent more than $37 billion building physical infrastructure on US soil. And Google’s office building frenzy isn’t just in the US. Last January Google announced an expenditure of 1 billion dollars for its offices in central London.

So for Google, the desktop is not dead. And for Apple either

So for Google, the desktop is not dead. Why ? Because people always want (and maybe even need) a space where they can meet and connect with their colleagues. But many business leaders think exactly the opposite.

Google itself admits that there will be a lot of trial and error over the next couple of years on the issue of hybrid working. Google is trying to figure out what the terms “hybrid” and “flexible” really mean. But an office is far from just a place where employees gather to work. It is also a place of representation of power.

Apple, for example, has used its headquarters named Apple Park since 2017 as a global symbol of the company. Admittedly, this campus can accommodate 12,000 people on 70 hectares. But this place designed by Steve Jobs offers above all a 1000-seat amphitheater from which all the new products of the Apple brand are announced, and an innovation center. “Steve’s vision for Apple went way beyond his time with us. He envisioned Apple Park to be the home of innovation for generations to come,” said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. Apple.

There is no doubt that for Apple and Google, the prestige of a company depends on a strong real estate imprint.

Like most large companies, Google closed its offices in early 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold around the world. Apple, Facebook, Amazon and many other companies have also delayed returning their employees to the office, at least until January 2022.

Last year, however, Google announced that it would adopt a “hybrid workforce model” that required employees to spend at least some time in the office. Google said it also expects about 20% of its employees to work from home permanently.

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