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.