Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Discusses the Future of Work

2 min read
May 12, 2020
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Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave an interview to Face the Nation on Sunday to discuss the future of the US economy. He went against the grain of current post-pandemic wisdom, predicting, for example, that businesses will need more office space than they have now. As he is working with a couple of influential public sector committees, his opinions may have more predictive power than others floating around right now.

A common mantra since the start of the pandemic has been that the world of work will change forever. One of the big parts of that assumed change is a shift to more remote work. Schmidt echoed much of that common sentiment, but also added that he thought offices would get bigger in the wake of the pandemic. In his version, social distancing and more flexible work policies would make for both bigger offices, with more space per employee, and more remote work options outside of big metropolitan areas.

Another big theme of the interview was the power of the internet to shift the centers of power away from a few “super cities.” This depends on better rural infrastructure, with faster internet being the factor Schmidt is most concerned about. Though he didn’t give details, he seems convinced that the development of rural internet will speed up.

Schmidt has plenty of authority when it comes to the intersection of technology and business. What’s harder to judge is just how much our collective behavior will change after the pandemic in the ways Schmidt envisions. Will people want to leave big cities to live in more rural areas? It’s also possible that many want such options already, but the current infrastructure doesn’t support how they’d prefer to work. If that infrastructure comes as soon as Schmidt predicts, you might not have to fake that cabin-in-the-woods Zoom background anymore.