Google Invests $7 Billion Across U.S. as It Bets on the Post-Pandemic Office

Google says it is doubling down on the office.

The Alphabet Inc. GOOG -1.10% unit said it would spend $7 billion this year expanding its footprint of offices and data centers across the U.S., including pouring $1 billion into its home state of California. It said it would hire at least 10,000 new full-time staff over the course of the year, positioning the search-engine giant for what it said it expects to be a post-pandemic recovery in the U.S.

The spending commitment follows an early slow down in investment by Google about a year ago, as the magnitude of the Covid-19 crisis was just starting to take shape. Last April, Alphabet and Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told staff in a memo that Google would slow hiring amid the pandemic.

But, like other big tech companies, it has flourished over the past year. Google, in particular, has benefited from an accelerated shift in online ad spending.

The company said the investment commitment is aimed at existing sites but that it was also creating three new office sites, in Minnesota, Texas and North Carolina, expanding Google’s presence to 19 states. The company said it would add thousands of roles at existing sites in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York.

The move comes as big companies rethink their office work after a year in which many employees have been working from home. Google was one of the first major U.S. corporations to formalize extending a time period for its employees to work remotely, deciding last summer that it would keep its employees working from home until at least July 2021.

As Covid-19 cases stabilize or fall in many places and vaccinations pick up pace, executives are now debating when and how to return to offices.

Prominent tech companies are embracing remote work amid an exodus of skilled labor from Silicon Valley. WSJ looks at what that could mean for innovation and productivity and what companies are doing to manage the impact.

“Coming together in person to collaborate and build community is core to Google’s culture,” Mr. Pichai said in a blog post Thursday. “And it will be an important part of our future.” That commitment underscored the company’s decision to expand offices in Silicon Valley, he said.

The California spending also comes amid an exodus of many workers, and some companies, from the tech-heavy San Francisco Bay Area, as remote work reshapes the region long beset by high property prices and taxes.

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