Power Players

Why Google's CEO misses his commute (plus the new hobby he learned on YouTube)

Sundar Pichai, Alphabet CEO
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Millions of people around the world have had to adjust their daily schedules due to stay-at-home restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. As everyone adapts to remote working in their own way, many people are finding that they miss certain things about their old routine.

That includes the CEO of Google, who said he actually misses his commute.

"I miss transitions," Sundar Pichai, who is also the chief executive of Google parent company Alphabet, told The Verge — that time that "[gives] me a chance to drive and think about stuff and process," he said.

Pichai said he misses the breaks between meetings and work projects where he might have to physically move from one location, as well as his drive to and from work. 

While eliminating that time might be "a bit more efficient," Pichai said, "I miss that space to think quietly," he told the Verge. 

In fact, Pichai has begun putting time on his calendar for it.

"I'm trying to force-block times on the calendar, specifically to read and think," he says. "I think it's hard to do. But actually block the time and do that."

Pichai said he has also learned that successfully working from home "is as much about not working from home," he told The Verge.

So to create "boundaries" between his work schedule and his personal life, Pichai said he has picked hobbies, "which I never thought I had before," he said. (Though it has been reported that Pichai has at least one non-work hobby, as he's an avid cricket fan who once captained his high school cricket team.)

One of his new hobbies Pichai learned on Google-owned YouTube. 

"I made pizza last week from scratch, thanks to some YouTube cooking video," Pichai told The Verge. "It turned out okay."

Pichai may have some time to brush up. According to a recent internal email, Pichai told Alphabet employees that the majority of the company would likely continue to work from home "potentially" through the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, Pichai is not completely alone in missing his daily commute.

One study in April that surveyed over 1,000 workers in Europe and the U.S. found that 69% missed some aspect of their daily commutes (though 55% of car commuters said they did not miss the drive to work at all).

And a recent joint CNBC/Change Research survey found that 47% of people said they were putting the extra time saved from not commuting to use by spending more time with their families, while others spent that time catching up on sleep or their hobbies.

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