Joe Borrett, Google

Founded in 1998, Google has revolutionized the Internet and has grown to serve hundreds of thousands of users and customers around the world. Thanks to its innovative approach to workplace design, it has become famous for its unique and fun office spaces, which aim to attract young talent. Joe Borrett, Director of Real Estate & Construction-EMEA, spoke to Europe Real Estate about what makes Google offices unique and shared his vision on the office of the future.

Which are the main criteria based on which Google selects office spaces and locations? What has changed in the requirements of modern office spaces?

The strategic reasons for a new office can vary widely, but they are largely driven by the specific needs of our business in that area. For Google, the ability to attract talent is paramount for a knowledge-based company, and we aim for offices in vibrant and creative neighborhoods that inspire our employees. To do this, a building must be very well connected to the city’s mass transit system, both above and below ground. This would also specifically include safe and easy access to the city’s cycle routes, communal bike network and any other environmentally sustainable transport system. Certainly within EMEA, where Google is predominantly a CBD employer, there is little emphasis on cars and parking as a decision driver.

Google is one of the leaders in new generation workspaces; could you describe the typical set up of a Google office?

Every Google office is designed with the same universal purpose: to create amazing work environments that help Googlers perform at their best every day. There is no template–unique work spaces are one of the greatest parts of our culture and every office is different. Our employees play a big part in giving each office a different look and feel. In short, the Google spaces are adaptable, flexible and engaging, so we can foster greater collaboration and help our teams be more productive. We still apply the one person-one desk concept as we believe this enables focus and community within the teams. However, at the same time we provide a variety of other work styles so that everyone can make a choice as to how to work the most efficiently and productively.

©David Barbour_Penson Group ©David Barbour_Penson Group

What is your vision for the new Google headquarters in London?

We want to be ambitious and stretch the building’s design, form and function so that the ideas of the future are brought to the Now.

How do technology and new ways of collaboration affect space in the workplace?

Fundamentally, I believe that there will always be an office. Any other ‘places of work’ are just another work style that allows the user to be his/her most efficient and productive. The office of the future will not be like the ‘Victorian’ construct that we have today; it will rather be a place without boundaries, which serves certain functions, but where other activities also take place. Technology will be more all-encompassing but at the same time it will be more relevant and invisible, supporting an individual’s needs more quickly, more precisely and more effectively, so that you always wonder why no one ever thought of this before.

Mr. Borrett's interview is part of the Thought Leaders section of Europe Real Estate 2014, launched during the MIPIM conference. The digital version of Europe Real Estate 2014 is also available in our webshops.

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