Former Google CEO Really Thinks You Need to Go Back to the Office

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks you need to head back to the office—for your own good.

In a new interview with CNBC, Schmidt indicated he was a “traditionalist” who thinks that in-person work is essential to building great management and collaboration skills, as well as great companies. Younger technologists need face-to-face interactions to improve their presentation and negotiation skills, in addition to meeting etiquette.

“In terms of their age, that’s when they learn,” he told the network. “If you miss out [on that] because you are sitting at home on the sofa while you’re working, I don’t know how you build great management. I honestly don’t.”

Google has opted for a hybrid schedule where employees return to the office three days per week. Some 14,000 employees either work remotely full-time or have moved to a new location, the company recently revealed; around 15 percent of requests for all-remote work have been denied.  “Taken together these changes will result in a workforce where around 60 percent of Googlers are coming together in the office a few days a week, another 20 percent are working in new office locations, and 20 percent are working from home,” current Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email posted to Google’s corporate blog in mid-2021.

While many technologists want to work remotely full-time, just as many have embraced a hybrid model for all the reasons cited by Schmidt: they want the in-person collaboration, camaraderie, and mentorship that come with the physical office (even if just for a few days out of the week) alongside the benefits of remote work. With the current technologist unemployment rate at notably low levels, more managers and executives are willing to negotiate with job candidates (and current employees) about flexible schedules; if you only want to head into the office two or three days a week, your company may be amenable to that.  

One Response to “Former Google CEO Really Thinks You Need to Go Back to the Office”

  1. jake_leone

    So Google, with the board’s approval, spent billions on work site collaboration units (shared, sardine can desks arrangements). And then, the pandemic hit, and the guys who are supposed to foresee this kind of thing, never did. No, what they foresaw was an outdated model for more offices, more employees, more jobs for management.
    They can’t dare say, well working from home is actually better than spending 4-6 hours in a stalled commute, then working at the office for a few hours. Then coming home to your family and getting heck for, never being around. They can’t see that work from home, actually means more time spent coding and working on the product.
    Because for management the product isn’t the code, or actual goods, the product is the amount of management positions that can be filled by the chosen ones.
    And no one dare say, “Oh, hey, that big office development, that was a big mistake.” (such things are never said) And the reason is because no one dare mention it because people will see the mold, that is growing on the egg, on their faces.
    I have been wearing a mask for 5 years now. I told my employer, before we moved to the “Collaboration” model (code word, for let’s cram everyone into a tight office space, and hey maybe we can rent out our unused buildings). That doing so was a great way to spread diseases around. I had to endure sneers from upper management, and the CEO, over the fact that I wore a medical mask to work.
    But the last time I had a cold or flu was 2016. I was always prepared for the pandemic. And when it hit, everyone joined me for a while. I was no longer weirdo.
    Again, I do more coding than I have ever done before, for work, from home. Oh, and I learned to play Charango, Sax, improved my piano sight reading. Didn’t burn 5000 gallons of gasoline commuting work. Didn’t add to the climate crisis. Didn’t have any road rage thrown at me.
    This guy, Eric Schmid, he doesn’t commute to work. He has a driver, drive him to work (2 or 3 miles), from his mansion or from the airport (ex: Moffet field).
    Eric Schmidt doesn’t care about future generations, he cares about perpetuating the same model that made him a billionaire, with no disruptions (even though the disruptions are a massive improvement).
    Business people don’t innovate. They merely scale the same wasteful, tired, old, world destroying models. If you want exponential growth, listen to the engineers. And the engineers are working far more efficiently, at home, on line.