Google purchases new London office for £730 million

The Central Saint Giles development will give Google an overall capacity for 10,000 employees across all of its UK sites

Google is now the owner of its previously-rented multi-floor office space in London’s Covent Garden area.

Purchased for $1 billion (around £730 million), the Central Saint Giles development is situated between the capital’s Tottenham Court Road tube station and the bustling shopping area of Seven Dials, and features 408,000 sq ft of office space as well as 17,000 sq ft of roof terraces.

However, before Google employees will be able to move in, the office space will undergo a “multi-million pound refurbishment” that is expected to last a few years.

The purchase of the Central Saint Giles building will provide Google with an overall capacity for 10,000 employees across all of its UK sites – a third more than its current tally of 6,400. This includes its additional King’s Cross development, construction of which had been delayed due to the pandemic and is likely the reason why Google decided to invest in Central Saint Giles.

In a blog post detailing the investment, Google UK & Ireland VP and MD Ronan Harris said that the renovations will include building “outdoor covered working spaces to enable work in the fresh air”.

This is in line with studies that show the spread Covid-19 outside is less likely than in poorly-ventilated closed spaces, as companies try to entice employees back to the office after almost two years of remote working.

“We believe that the future of work is flexibility. Whilst the majority of our UK employees want to be on-site some of the time, they also want the flexibility of working from home a couple of days a week. Some of our people will want to be fully remote. Our future UK workplace has room for all of those possibilities,” said Harris.

Kas Mohammed, VP of Digital Energy at Schneider Electric UK & Ireland, another company which has chosen to invest in its offices during a global pandemic, said that the rise of the hybrid working model “demands a change in how current offices are designed and utilised”.

“If businesses like Google are hoping to see staff return to the office for the long term, wellbeing and engagement will be crucial. Companies must invest in safety, but also provide tangible benefits to going into the office - from greater personal environment control to training and collaboration. Creating a safe, comfortable, and productive workplace will be fundamental to any working model,” Mohammed told IT Pro.

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According to Russ Shaw CBE, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, "Google’s decision to commit its future to the capital is proof of a healthy ecosystem in which all businesses - startups and scaleups as well as Big Tech - can flourish".

"Votes of confidence in London like this are brilliant both for aspiring tech founders and for bringing talent, investment and job opportunities to the capital to maintain its current growth trajectory. Where and how we work may have changed, but London’s reputation and status as an international technology hub only goes from strength to strength," he told IT Pro.

Completed in May 2010 at a cost of £450 million, the Central Saint Giles building was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, who is also behind London’s Shard building and Paris’ Centre Pompidou.

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