At the end of September, tech giant Google announced it had purchased a $2.1 billion office building in Manhattan, New York.
The idea is for the St John’s Terminal building to act as the “anchor” for the future of work at Google. In a blogpost, Ruth Porat wrote: “As Google moves toward a more flexible hybrid approach to work, coming together in person to collaborate and build community will remain an important part of our future. It is why we continue investing in our offices around the world.”
But one of the things that makes this office special is its use of green spaces.
It was designed by CookFox, an architectural firm which leveraged biophilic principles in transforming a former freight train terminal into a next-generation office space, according to the Financial Times.
Google has further focused on the biophilia aspect of the office space by hiring ecologist Eric Sanderson to advise on what to plant in the gardens scattered throughout the office terrace spaces.
The tech giant’s sustainability team wants to ensure that they plant the right trees and plants that will attract caterpillars, birds and bees.
A Google spokesperson told Business Insider: “St. John’s Terminal is a former freight facility that is being reimagined into a highly sustainable, adaptable, and connected building.
“Its biophilic design connecting people more closely to nature will add numerous outdoor open spaces and reconnect the Hudson Square neighborhood to the waterfront. The building will also offset 100% of its carbon in support of Google’s ambitious carbon goals.”
Are green office spaces the future?
While having greener offices is better for the environment than standard office buildings, it is increasingly becoming clear that employees, and particularly younger ones, want to work in greener spaces and that it is beneficial for their productivity.
A recent Harvard study found that those working in green offices had a 20% boost in cognition, 30% fewer sick days and 6% increase in sleep quality, compared to those who worked in offices with no plants.
Research by the World Green Building Council looked into concrete employer examples of success. It found that construction firm Skanska cut sick days by two thirds by making improvements to its office around indoor air quality and lighting, while manufacturing firm Saint-Gobain’s US staff say a 97% increase in sales leads by moving into a new, greener building.
A member of Google’s sustainability team Michele Neptune told the Financial Times: “We’re looking to create workplaces that reduce stress, improve cognitive function, enhance creativity — all of these make our employees healthier, happier and more engaged in their work.
“It’s something that Google believes in . . . and it’s something we invest in.”
Co-founder of CookFox, Rick Cook, added: “All of this, make no mistake, is about recruitment and retention of talent.
“People are going to take a tour and say, ‘Do I want to be in that glass-and-steel tower or that cool Google building?”
It is clear that Google is betting on green spaces to not only pull employees back into the office in the future of work, but also to continue to attract and retain talent in the future of work.
Could creating green workspaces be the solution to the ‘Great Resignation’ that is ongoing globally?