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Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt on why in-office work is better: ‘I don’t know how you build great management’ virtually

By | Jade Scipioni |

After more than two years of remote work and multiple return-to-office delays, most Google employees are heading back to the office at least part-time — and ex-Google CEO and chairman Eric Schmidt couldn’t be happier about it.

″[I]t’s important that these people be at the office, in my view,” Schmidt, 66, tells CNBC Make It, arguing that for decades, the in-office style has been proven effective. “I’m a traditionalist.”

Starting Monday, Google’s hybrid work arrangement kicked off, with most employees expected to be in the office at least three days per week. Schmidt, who served as Google’s CEO from 2001 to 2011, helped transform the then-young Silicon Valley start-up into today’s $1.9 trillion global tech behemoth — and credits in-office work for much of that growth.

“We spent decades having these conversations about people being close together … the discussion at the coffee table and going to coffee,” Schmidt says. “Remember all of that? Was that all wrong?”

Schmidt says it’s not just a matter of nostalgia: There are practicalities to working together in person. For example, he says that conversations about professionalism — which might be particularly necessary at companies full of young employees — are much harder to have virtually.

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