Silicon Valley billionaire Eric Schmidt predicts that companies will need more office space after the pandemic, not less

REUTERS/Brian SnyderEric Schmidt.
  • Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks that office space will be in greater demand after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
  • During an appearance on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, the 65-year-old said he thought the desire for social distancing within offices would place a premium on office space.
  • Schmidt, who led Google from 2001 to 2011, said the “incredibly concentrated” nature of global megacities would change as employees at the same firm work in different locations.
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Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks office space will be in greater demand after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

Schmidt’s remarks on “Face the Nation” on Sunday appeared to contradict a widespread belief that offices might be on the decline as workers learn to work effectively from home.

During his appearance on “Face the Nation,” the 65-year-old said he thought the desire for social distancing within offices would place a premium on office space.

“My guess is we’ll have more demand for office space, not less, because people will want social distancing,” Schmidt said.

“We’re going to have to think about hub-and-spoke systems where local people don’t travel so far because they don’t want to be in public transit for so long. So we’re going to have to really rethink how businesses operate. They need their employees back.”

Schmidt, who led Google from 2001 to 2011, said the density of global megacities would change as employees at the same firm work in different locations.

“If you think of it as an employer, you have a bunch of employees, some of whom are dying to get back to the office and some people who are afraid that if they go to the office they will die,” he said.

“They’re very concerned about they’re immunocompromised or what have you. So they’re going to have to come up with flexible arrangements. So imagine that there are three or four people: one will go to the office, one will stay home, some will go to some local or near-their-town working environment. It will change the pattern.

“We’ve had this situation where people move to supercities in these incredibly concentrated ways. That will change in the next few years. You don’t need to be in the supercity in order to participate in the excitement of these supercities.”

CNET reported on Saturday that Schmidt, who’s been an adviser to Google since 2011, had stepped down from that position in February. The former exec remains one of the wealthiest people in the world, with a net worth of $US15.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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