Big tech companies like Meta and Google were among the first to announce during the pandemic that they would allow some employees to work from home permanently, but they have also been spending billions of dollars expanding their office spaces.
Doubling down on offices may seem counterintuitive to the many tech workers who continue to work remotely. In January, 48 percent of people in computer and math fields and 35 percent of those in architecture or engineering said they had worked from home at some point because of the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But companies, real-estate analysts and workplace experts said that several factors were propelling the trend, including a hiring boom, a race to attract and retain top talent and a sense that offices will play a key role in the future of work.
Debates over whether workers should be required to return to the office can be thorny because some employees say they have been happier and more productive at home. One way companies are trying to lure them back is by splurging on prime office space with great amenities.
Big Tech executives say that office expansions are to be expected and that modernized buildings will probably be spaces for people to collaborate rather than stare at screens. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, leased 730,000 square feet in Midtown Manhattan in August 2020, and has added space in Silicon Valley as well as in Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; and Bellevue, Wash.
Google said early last year that it would spend $7 billion on new and expanded offices and data centers around the country in 2021, including $2.1 billion to buy a Manhattan office building by the Hudson River, and growth in Atlanta; Silicon Valley; Boulder, Colo.; Durham, N.C.; and Pittsburgh. Google also said in January that it would spend $1 billion on a London office building.