Indoor spaces flooded with sunlight, how Google welcomes employees from the pandemic

Google has more than 45,000 employees in the Silicon Valley region.

Mountain View, United States:

Roofs covered in canopy-like solar panels and interior spaces flooded with sunlight: Google has bet big on personal work with its sprawling new offices in Silicon Valley.

AFP visited Google’s 1.1 million square feet (100,000 square meters) campus on Monday as the tech giant welcomes workers after telecommuting in the pandemic era.

“Fortunately, many of the things we were already planning prepared us for success with Covid,” said Michelle Kaufmann, Google director of development for built environments.

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

The campus occupies 17 acres of leased federal land adjacent to NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, close to the company’s headquarters.

It includes an event center and small apartments for out-of-town workers to use when visiting for work.

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

– ‘Don’t go empty’ –

The ground floor houses cafes, fitness centers, meeting rooms, social areas and playful accents such as multicolored exercise bikes that people can pedal while chatting, with the option to connect devices to charge devices with power they generate.

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

Workspaces are divided into “neighborhoods” with homey touches and even “courtyards” with cozy furnishings.

“The ground floor is really like a market, so it’s more lively.” says Kaufmann.

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

The Bay View campus is slated to house 4,500 employees, with the move set to take place in the coming weeks.

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

In the future, Google expects a standard for people to typically work in the office about three days a week, with that rhythm changing depending on the phases of projects and, of course, the pace of the pandemic.

“I don’t believe any of our buildings will be vacant, that’s not a problem we’re concerned about,” Kaufmann said.

“We’re more concerned about whether we’ll have enough space just because the business is still growing,” she added.

Google has more than 45,000 employees in the Silicon Valley region.

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