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caption: Google's new campus in downtown Kirkland
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Google's new campus in downtown Kirkland
Credit: KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Google will build more offices in Washington, despite hybrid trend

Earlier this month, Google employees began returning to the office in person, at least two to three days a week.

While they were gone, Google's been building a lot of new offices in Seattle and Kirkland. And it's promised to spend another $100 million in the state to build more.

In downtown Kirkland, Google's new offices offer lots of perks to lure workers in.

That could help the company in its effort to get employees to come in at least two days a week.

There’s a theater where employees play video games on a giant screen. There’s a music studio, stocked with electric guitars and drums. And of course, there’s a dog lounge. That’s where Megan Bergman is doing work for Google Maps.

“I mean, after two years of hanging out with my dogs during the pandemic, like this is a great way to ease myself back to working in the office and still have that comfort of having the dog," Bergman said. "And she gets to burn off some energy playing.”

caption: The dog lounge in Google's newest office tower in Kirkland 
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Google has been growing in Washington state. At 7,200 employees statewide, it's still nowhere as big as Amazon or Microsoft or even Facebook. But, by focusing much of its growth in Kirkland, it's managed to become a big fish in a small pond.

Penny Sweet is the mayor of Kirkland. On Thursday, she took a tour of one of the company’s newest office towers.

“Google has been a wonderful partner," Sweet said. "They used to be kind of this quiet, secretive organization. But they have embraced the community.”

Google’s older campus in South Kirkland was kind of its own thing: part of the city, yet almost suburban in its isolation. The new buildings at Google's Kirkland Urban campus are more integrated into downtown Kirkland, with stores and restaurants on the ground floor.

Google's announcement that it would invest $100 million in new buildings did not break down how much money would flow into offices and how much would flow into data centers. Nor did the company indicate how many new employees would occupy those new buildings and at what salaries.

caption: Yet another office tower under construction at Google's urban Kirkland campus
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Yet another office tower under construction at Google's urban Kirkland campus
Credit: KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Google's Site Lead Paco Galenes could not identify any programs his company was funding to help increase the stock of affordable housing near its offices, as both Microsoft and Amazon have done in recent years.

According to census data, “computer software programmer” is now the most common job in the greater Seattle metro area.

According to Zillow, the average home price in Kirkland is $1.2 million.

caption: A single family home a couple blocks from Google's new Urban Kirkland campus
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A single family home a couple blocks from Google's new Urban Kirkland campus
Credit: KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols