Google’s Myth of Losing Social Capital in Hybrid Work

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

google recently announced the new post-pandemic hybrid work policy, requiring employees to work in the office at least three days a week. That policy goes against the wishes of many regular Google employees. A questionnaire of more than 1,000 Google employees, two-thirds said they feel unhappy about being in the office three days a week, with many threaten to leave in internal meetings and public letters, and some I’ve already stopped to move to other companies with more flexible options.

Yet the leadership of Google defending his claim from mainly office work when necessary to protect the social capital of the company, ie people’s connections with and trust in each other. In reality, according to the former head of HR at Google Laszlo Brock, three days a week is just a transition period. Google’s leadership plans to work full-time in the office for the next few years. Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt supports this ideaby saying that it is “important that these people are in the office” to take advantage of on-the-job training for junior team members.

Related: Why Proximity Bias Keeps Leaders From Excelling in the Age of Hybrid and Remote Work

Google’s stance on return to office to protect social capital is similar to Apple’s, namely: requiring a three-day work week. That’s how it is confronted with employee dissatisfaction, with many planning on leave if they are forced to return.

On the other hand, loads of from major tech companies, such as Amazon and Twitter, offer employees much more flexibility with extensive remote working capabilities. The same is true for many non-tech companies, such as: ruralDeloitte3M and Applied materials† Are they giving up social capital?

Not at all. What forward-looking companies discovered is that hybrid and even fully remote working does not automatically lead to a loss of social capital.

However, you lose social capital if you try to transform traditional office-centric collaboration methods into hybrid and remote work. Therefore research results show how companies that converted their existing prepandemic work arrangements to remote working during the lockdowns lost social capital. Yet show studies that by adopting best practices for hybrid and teleworking, organizations can boost their social capital.

Why have organizations not valued hybrid work?

Leaders often fail to adopt best practices because of dangerous errors of judgment that cognitive biases† This one mental blind spots influence decision-making in all areas of life, including: company until relationships† Fortunately, recent research has shown effective strategies to: beat these dangerous errors of judgmentsuch as by limiting our choices by focusing on the best options available, for example by using these comparison website

One of these prejudices is called functional stability† When we have a certain perception of appropriate practices, we tend to disregard other, more appropriate alternatives.

Trying to convert existing ways of collaborating in ‘office culture’ to hybrid and remote working is a good example of functional stability. That’s why leaders failed approach strategically the problems arising from the abrupt transition to telecommuting in March 2020.

Another cognitive bias, related to functional fixedness, is called the not invented-here syndrome† It’s leaders’ antipathy to adopting practices not invented within their organization, however helpful, such as external best practices for hybrid and remote working.

Overcoming these cognitive biases requires the use of research-based best practices† It means to adopt a hybrid-first model, with most coming to the office at least once a week and a minority completely remote. To do this successfully, a new work culture must be created that is suitable for the hybrid and distant future of work.

Related: Why Are So Many Leaders Ruining the Return to Office?

Virtual coworking for hybrid work collaboration

A very important best practice is virtual coworking, which offers many of the social capital benefits of in-person coworking without the stress of the commute. Virtual coworking involves members of small teams working on their own individual tasks while having a video conference call together.

This experience replicates the advantage of a shared cabin space, where you work together with your team members, but on your own task. If team members have questions, they can ask them and get them answered quickly.

This technique offers a great opportunity for on-the-job training: the essence of such training comes from colleagues answering questions and showing junior employees what to do. But it also benefits more experienced team members who may need an answer to a question from another team member’s area of ​​expertise.

Occasionally issues may arise that would benefit from a brief discussion and clarification. Often, team members save their more complex or confusing tasks to perform during a coworking session for just such help.

Sometimes team members talk about themselves and how things are going in work and life. That’s the advantage of a shared workspace, and virtual coworking mimics that experience.

Related: Telework Burnout and Zoom Fatigue: Way More Complicated Than They Look

The virtual water cooler for hybrid work social cohesion

Another excellent technique for a hybrid or full external format is the virtual water cooler† It aims to replace the social capital built up by team members chatting in the break room or around the water cooler.

Each team has set up a channel in their collaboration software, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, for personal, non-work discussions by team members. Every morning, whether they come to the office or work from home, all team members send a message answering the following questions:

  1. How are things in general?
  2. What has been interesting in your life lately outside of work?
  3. What is happening in your work: what is going well and what are some challenges?
  4. What is one thing about you or the world that most other team members don’t know?

Employees are encouraged to post photos or videos as part of their responses. They are also asked to respond to at least three other employees who have made an update that day.

Related: Hybrid Work Will Last Indefinitely

Most of these questions are about life outside of work and are intended to help people get to know each other better. They humanize team members for each other, help them get to know each other as people and build social capital.

There is also one work question, which aims to help team members learn what others are currently working on. That question helps them to work together more effectively.

During the day, team members use that same channel for personal sharing. Anyone who feels inspired can share what is happening in their life and respond to others who do.

The combination of mandatory morning updates coupled with the autonomy of personal sharing strikes a good balance for building relationships and cultivating trust. It suits the different preferences and personalities of the company’s employees.

Hybrid and even completely remote working does not have to mean the loss of social capital. These work arrangements only lead to weakened connections as stubborn, traditional-style leaders try to impose old-fashioned, office-oriented collaboration methods in the new world of hybrid and remote work. No wonder Eric Schmidt say “I’m a traditionalist” when I argue for office work.


Google, Apple and similar traditional companies refuse to adopt best practices for hybrid and remote work, such as virtual coworking and virtual water chillers, then blaming hybrid and remote work arrangements for the loss of social capital. The people who leave Google and Apple because of their inflexible work schedules are moving to more progressive, forward-thinking companies that use hybrid and remote working best practices to build social capital and recruit outstanding staff. Such companies will seize competitive advantage and old-fashioned companies will be left in the dust in the battle for talent.

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

More from author


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts


Latest posts

The Nostalgia Factor: Why Retro Gaming Continues to Thrive

In the fast-paced world of modern video games with their stunning graphics, lifelike simulations, and complex narratives, there's a distinct charm in returning to...

The Rise of Cross-Platform App Development in Australia

In the ever-evolving landscape of app development, the need for efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and wider reach has given rise to a significant trend: cross-platform app...

Embracing Efficiency and Nature: Why Outdoor Pods Trump Typical Cubicles

In the ever-evolving world of work, the concept of the traditional office is undergoing a profound transformation. The limitations of the conventional cubic office...

Want to stay up to date with the latest news?

We would love to hear from you! Please fill in your details and we will stay in touch. It's that simple!