Tech giant Google still is not requiring workers to come back to their offices but they are relaxing rules and reactivating amenities in order to entice them back. This week they announced that they would be dropping weekly COVID testing in all of their Bay Area offices and mask mandates in all except their Santa Clara office where it is still required by local regulations. They will also be restoring perks like gyms and on-site massages. “We’re pleased that our employees who choose to come in now have the ability to access more onsite spaces and services to work and connect with colleagues,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Big tech companies are often emulated by other organizations when it comes to business practices and Google’s commitment to the office might lead other companies down the same path. Case rates have dropped significantly since the Omicron surge but the role of the office after two years of working from home is still unknown. Even Google reported that only 30 percent of their Bay Area employees were currently going into the office.
Many real estate investors see this as an opportunity to acquire office properties. A German investment firm Deka Immobilien just purchased a four-building Google campus in Seattle for $802 million and is developing a fifth office tower for the company nearby. But even with the newfound interest in office development, new office stock might take a while to come online. Deka has seen its project delayed by a concrete truckers strike and many other developers are finding difficulties in sourcing materials and finding tradespeople for construction. The future of the office is still up for grabs, but it looks a lot brighter than it did just a few months ago.