Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt warned employers on Thursday that imposing fear and forcing employees to return to work amid the coronavirus pandemic will not result in productivity.
“It is never a good idea to force your employees for fear of losing their jobs to come to work,” Schmidt told CNBC’s “Squawk Box”. “It just doesn’t produce the right result.”
“If the answer is that employees will be forced to come to work to do their jobs for real fear of infection and serious health problems, it will be a difficult time,” he added.
As some states begin to relax restrictions on coronaviruses, employers are wondering when and if to bring employees back to work. Several companies that easily allow employees to work remotely, such as in technology and financial services, can extend work at home policies. But others, like manufacturing, will likely require people to be in the corporate workspace.
NBC News reported earlier this week that a handful of Tesla, California workers said they did not feel safe going back to work when the plant reopened, but were pressured into doing so out of fear potential retaliation. Tesla director of human resources also emailed his employees on Wednesday, telling them that they may not be eligible for government unemployment benefits if they do not return to work, CNBC reported. Tesla has restarted part of vehicle production at its plant in Fremont, California, in violation of local orders.
Schmidt didn’t speak specifically to Tesla, but said companies will soon fall into three categories: people who can’t go to work, people who don’t want to or are worried about exposure, and people who can’t wait Get out of the house.
“I suppose you are going to see groups of people, who will organize themselves. This group will be finished in this remote place, this group will be in the central office, these people will never come either because they have legitimate fears” until this thing is resolved, “said Schmidt.” Employers will have to give employees some flexibility. ”
Schmidt was managing director of Google from 2001 to 2011, before going on to the post of executive chairman of Google, then Alphabet until 2018. Last year, Schmidt did not seek to be re-elected to the board of administration, his last term having ended, but he retained his title of technology. advise. Although CNET reported Schmidt ceased to be a technical advisor last week in February.