We’ve had huge debates about the future of work — are we going to be working from home, working from the office, or perhaps, working from anywhere?
Well, Facebook has put its wager down, and it’s work from office.
In a flurry of articles in the local press overnight, The New York Times and others confirmed that Facebook has secured the main office lease on the James A. Farley Building, located one block south of Penn Station in western Midtown Manhattan. The company’s lease was for 730,000 square feet, which will be added to the company’s existing 2.2 million square feet that includes 770 Broadway, TechCrunch’s nominal NYC headquarters as well as those of our parent company Verizon Media.
It’s a statement on the future of the Farley Building, which today is the hub of the Postal Service’s operations in New York. The building has long been central to the schemes for renewing Penn Station, with its gorgeous facade abutting Eighth Avenue that many planners believed could be the locus for a new competitor to Grand Central Station after the original Penn Station was torn down decades ago. After decades of debate, a new Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passenger hall and platform is planned for opening in 2021.
Facebook joins several other tech companies in the neighborhood. Google’s New York City headquarters is just down the street on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, which was a similarly massive transaction when Google bought the former Port Authority building in one of the largest real estate deals in New York City history back in 2010. Datadog, one of New York City’s best-performing IPOs, is just up the street on Eighth Avenue in The New York Times headquarters building. Meanwhile, Amazon has its headquarters just a few blocks east.
While certainly a strong indication that New York City’s tech scene remains vibrant, the move is curious, given the tech industry’s broad movement toward remote work over the past few months. Facebook itself has said that it is going to allow remote work well into the future, and also will build more regional hubs in cities like Dallas. From our article in May, “The Facebook CEO estimated that over the course of the next decade, half of the company could be working fully remotely.”
Rumors about Facebook taking the Farley building have persisted since last year, and even Apple was believed to be eyeing the location to expand its … Big Apple presence.
Office space of this size and caliber is hard to find, which is likely why Facebook pulled the trigger now instead of waiting for more information related to the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the future of work. Nonetheless, the company seems clear in its mentality: workers are going to have more space to come into work, perhaps with some more flexible working arrangements on the side.