Malcolm Gladwell, author of the bestselling books, Blink and The Tipping Point, believes the trend toward working remotely is detrimental to society and people should get out of their homes and go back to work.
“It’s very hard to feel necessary when you’re physically disconnected,” an emotional Gladwell told host Steven Bartlett on the “Diary of a CEO” podcast.
“As we face the battle that all organizations are facing now in getting people back into the office, it’s really hard to explain this core psychological truth, which is we want you to have a feeling of belonging and to feel necessary,” he said.
“And we want you to join our team,” the Canadian journalist said. “And if you’re not here it’s really hard to do that.”
For Gladwell, it’s a matter of making the right life choices.
“It’s not in your best interest to work at home,” he stated. “I know it’s a hassle to come into the office, but if you’re just sitting in your pajamas in your bedroom, is that the work life you want to live?”
“Don’t you want to feel part of something?” he asked listeners.
The damage remote working is doing is something too complex for average employees to fully grasp, Gladwell suggests, and employers aren’t doing nearly enough to explain it to them.
“I’m really getting very frustrated with the inability of people in positions of leadership to explain this effectively to their employees,” he said. “If we don’t feel like we’re part of something important, what’s the point? If it’s just a paycheck, then it’s like, what have you reduced your life to?”
Gladwell’s scorn for working at home comes at a time when mayors in major cities have begun urging workers to return to the office. Small businesses, they argue, rely on the foot traffic from busy offices to stay afloat, the New York Post reports.
But many on Twitter are quite happy with their working arrangement and were quick to push back against Gladwell’s criticism of their choices, calling the author a hypocrite.
“OK,” tweeted one user along with a quote from a 2010 Wall Street Journal article in which Gladwell gushes over the joys of working from wherever he desires, including coffee shops and his comfy sofa.
— Obeah Man from Moore Town (@AWindwardMaroon) August 7, 2022
Working from home means more time with the family, argued several users, and that’s a pretty big perk.
“Ive [sic] reduced my life to avoiding lengthy commutes, gas prices, unproductive office chatter, lower insurance rates, being home when my kids arrive from school, insane office lunch costs, and an overall healthier state of mind…” another user replied, “but do go on.”
Ive reduced my life to avoiding lengthy commutes, gas prices, unproductive office chatter, lower insurance rates, being home when my kids arrive from school, insane office lunch costs, and an overall healthier state of mind… but do go on 🤷🏿♂️
— E A Harris (@Eharrioso) August 6, 2022
Others echoed the sentiment.
I used to spend close to two hours in the car. Now I also get to spend more time with my family.
— Jack (@august15_jack) August 8, 2022
Fellow journalists were among the most vocal in their opposition to Gladwell’s assessment of working from home.
“I’ve worked from home for 10 years,” wrote Jack Murphy. “You literally could not pay me enough to dress like a dork and attend corporate meetings that should have been an email (that I won’t read). Gladwell is one of those pseudo-intellectuals that we used to keep cloistered and confined in academia.”
I've worked from home for 10 years. You literally could not pay me enough to dress like a dork and attend corporate meetings that should have been an email (that I won't read). Gladwell is one of those pseudo-intellectuals that we used to keep cloistered and confined in academia. https://t.co/ff8eEaSlvE
— Jack Murphy (@JackMurphyRGR) August 8, 2022
Even CEOs objected to the author’s take on remote working.
“I’m CEO of a company that went remote two years ago,” tweeted Dan Price. “Last year we had our highest revenue and lowest employee turnover in our history (in 19 years). We also had about 300 applications per job opening.”
I’m CEO of a company that went remote two years ago. Last year we had our highest revenue and lowest employee turnover in our history (in 19 years). We also had about 300 applications per job opening.
— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) August 8, 2022
It was game designer Dennis Detwiller who perhaps best summed up Twitter’s thoughts on Gladwell’s opinion.
“If I’ve reduced my life to not dealing with people like Malcolm Gladwell,” he tweeted, “it’s worth it.”
If I’ve reduced my life to not dealing with people like Malcolm Gladwell, it’s worth it. https://t.co/auZuITTEWK
— Dennis Detwiller (@drgonzo123) August 7, 2022
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