Google’s offices in California, especially the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, are in some of the most expensive living areas in the U.S., but Google is trying to attract more employees to live near their workplace by ordering 300 cheap modular apartments for its employees to live in temporarily. The search giant’s employees typically have to choose between paying extremely high rent or mortgage costs, or facing a long commute, but this solution promises to erect 300 space-friendly, pre-assembled apartments that will cost far less to build than typical housing. The housing will come from a startup called Factory OS, who reportedly received somewhere between $25 million and $30 million from Google for this deal. There was no word on exactly how much the housing would cost employees, how long they can stay, or what Google plans to do to help solve its employee housing crisis in the long term.
Modular apartments are a fairly new concept, and can reduce construction costs for new properties up to 50% over traditional building materials and methods. The homes’ various components are built and prepared in a factory setting, then brought to their final location and assembled. The entire process allows for much easier building and transport than trailers or coaches, quicker setup than other alternatives, and far lower costs in the end. This makes the concept an ideal solution for Google, whose new and prospective employees could use housing near their workplace as soon as possible, for obvious reasons.
Google’s solution is among the most novel of Silicon Valley companies, especially given its reputation for developments such as employees staying at the complex during the work week and going home on the weekends, or even outright living in their vehicles in the parking lot. Google usually covers some basic expenses for interns who are otherwise unpaid or paid a far lower wage than regular employees, but once somebody is a full-time Google employee, their salary is expected to cover all of their expenses. Other firms have generally been a bit less creative, tending to either subsidize housing or commutes, allow employees to simply live on grounds, strategically position buildings for an ideal commute from cheaper areas, or simply ignore the crisis and allow employees to figure out housing on their own. Many major tech companies are leaning toward the strategic placement camp. Facebook, for example, is reportedly looking into renting an unspecified amount of office space in a tower in San Francisco on a testing basis.