Google Wants to Return to the Office Because Its Culture Is Outdated

Dan Ballagh
4 min readApr 11, 2022
Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash

Large tech companies like Google and Apple are returning to the office. Companies like these were leaders at innovation but have forgotten what made them good at innovation, their employees. These companies cling to their legacy cultures; they can’t change them alongside the changing labor markets even if they wanted to.

Workers are getting fed up with having a poor work-life balance and won’t stand for a poor work-life balance anymore, which causes a disconnect between companies and workers.

Big tech companies are getting too old and stale. They haven’t been able to keep up with how offices affect people’s psyche. If we go back to the traditional office, innovation will decrease, and people will continue to look for alternatives.

Google’s employees don’t want to return to the office

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Google held an employee town hall meeting recently and announced that most employees would return to the office (RTO) three days a week. In a Q&A session, Google’s CEO Sundar Puchai read a question from an employee, “why is the RTO policy not working from the office when you want to or when it makes sense to?“ Pichai said that one reason for the partial return to the office is for people to get to know their colleagues.

We hired so many people over the last two years who just don’t know how the company works.

Furthermore, Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO, calls himself “a traditionalist” in a new interview with and says there are many advantages to in-person work, such as collaboration, networking, and inexperienced workers gaining valuable exposure to professional workplaces. Schmidt claims that workers between the ages of 25 to 35 should be in an office because it’s essential for developing management skills.

These appear to be legitimate reasons on the surface but isn’t there a way to onboard new hires or develop leaders remotely? If not, why?

Boil the frog mentality

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Google plans to have its employees return to the office three days a week. They want to make people get used to being in-person again, just like a frog that has been slowly boiled alive, according to Laszlo Bock, Google’s human resources chief from 2006 to 2016. Older executives from all industries — even those based in Silicon Valley — find it challenging to lead remote teams. “Leaders find it hard to lead virtually,” Bock said.

Bock claims large companies are excited about a total return to office life, but the transition is likely to be slow and gradual, a “boil the frog” type of transition. Here’s input from another unnamed exec who said: “We will get back into the office eventually; we just don’t want to get into any battles right now.”

I find it ironic how a cutting-edge tech company like Google can’t figure out how to manage remote workers. Instead, they invest even more into office spaces, which looks like their doubling down.

Google is heavily investing in offices

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Google might be based in Silicon Valley, but they’re still expanding. Recently, they decided to purchase some prestigious office space in London to help teams collaborate, they said. They bought a London site for 763 million pounds ($1 billion), plan to build a second campus a couple of kilometers to the north, and struck a deal to buy office space in New York last year.

Even while buying all this office space, Google claims it approved 85% of remote work requests and embraces the Hybrid worker model, so why do they need so much damn office space? It sure seems like they are planning for workers to return to the office full time.

Google doesn’t have to force its employees to be in an office together for collaboration. They can do it remotely as they did during the pandemic. I feel Google and other companies are full of B.S, but one thing is clear; Google has decided it doesn’t want to change its culture and will continue to push its people back to the office.

Companies better wake up and smell the roses

After two years, I think I know a lot about managing and collaborating remotely. It is hard for executives to trust their employees when they don’t understand the concepts.

They’ve got all the technology to make remote working successful, but they need to change their company culture. Executives are aware of this challenge, but they don’t know which changes will work or how to implement them. It’s easier to force employees back to traditional offices or replace employees that resist.

Younger workers are more likely to resist traditional office settings. This is because they have no attachment to that type of workplace, and without them, a company’s ability to innovate will suffer.

It’ll be a bumpy road until companies figure out how to treat people better, and then maybe we can end “The Great Resignation.” Until then, I predict a future where smaller companies get the upper hand on top talent, at least for a while.



Dan Ballagh

IT leader, researcher, and tech enthusiast. I write about business, tech, and other topics of interest as a way to learn.