This week, businessman Kevin O’Leary and businesswoman Martha Stewart came out on opposite sides of the remote work issue.
It started with Stewart who laid into the remote work phenomenon during an interview with Footwear News.
In the interview published Monday, Stewart revealed that she’s on a “rampage” to get workers across the country back in the office and away from home.
“You can’t possibly get everything done working three days a week in the office and two days remotely. Look at the success of France with their stupid … you know, off for August, blah blah blah. That’s not a very thriving country. Should America go down the drain because people don’t want to go back to work?” she said.
“A boss never orders decaf,” Martha Stewart says, in that melodious voice that helped make her a household name. “I always start my day with green juice. It gives me energy, good skin and great hair! Mmm.” https://t.co/HEBZdeLMCb
— Footwear News (@FootwearNews) June 5, 2023
O’Leary responded during an appearance three days later on Fox News’s “Outnumbered.”
“I want to make a point here about the economy that’s changed because I live and breathe it every day with our portfolio of companies. And getting the data is what’s interesting to me. We found out now, we’ve made the assumption two years ago that 15 percent [of workers] wouldn’t return [to the office]. We’re wrong. It’s 40,” he said.
“And here are the areas of the sectors of the economy that they are not returning: Accounting, compliance, financial services and logistics. These are the jobs that used to be in cubicles in the basement of corporations, particularly here in New York City. You can see about 50 percent of the offices that are B-grade are empty. They’re never going to fill up again. They’re going to have to be converted into condos or climate-controlled storage,” he added.
He continued by arguing that those who’re unwilling to consider remote work for their employees are potentially sacrificing the best of the best.
“The economy has changed radically. The problem with saying everybody has to work in the office is you won’t be able to hire the best talent. When we went out for financial services, people in our operating company, the best talent, told us, If I have to come into an office and sit in a cubicle and drive for 45 minutes each day into a war-torn city like San Francisco, which we were trying to hire in, I’m not doing it,” he said.
“I don’t want to get shot on my way to work. I mean, this is another problem. Safety in large cities like Chicago, San Francisco, you know, some parts of New York City, L.A. these days, nobody wants to work in these places. They’re war zones. So, they want to work where they get their jobs done,” he added.
He had a point.
A survey conducted by Remote.co’s Work & Financial Wellness Report last year found that 63 percent of global workers would “absolutely” look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to work remotely anymore.
The survey also found that of the “top factors professionals state they use to evaluate job opportunities,” remote work options comes in at number one with 84 percent. Even salary comes in lower at 81 percent.
One possible compromise between employers and employees is “hybrid” work.
“Offering hybrid and remote work options may benefit companies that want to retain top talent. From 2019 to early 2022, a study discussed at the 2022 Stanford University Remote Work Conference found the share of postings that say new employees can work remotely one or more days per week rose threefold in the U.S,” according to FlexJobs.
“And a FlexJobs survey conducted in early 2022 found that only 3 percent of professionals are looking to go back into the office 100 percent of the time. This comes as no surprise, as 87 percent of professionals state that remote work options improved their overall work-life balance,” as noted by the company.
Conversely, FlexJobs’ Employee Engagement Report found that when employers demand remote workers return to the office, an average of 19 percent of employees refuse to comply.
Stewart isn’t alone in her opposition to remote work. Billionaire Twitter owner Elon Musk is also mostly opposed to it.
“I’m a big believer that people are more productive when they’re in person. People should get off their goddamn moral high horse with their work-from-home bullshit,” he said in an interview last month with CNBC:
“I’m a big believer that people are more productive when they’re in person,” Elon Musk said Tuesday on the work from home trend. “People should get off their goddamn moral high horse with their work-from-home b*******.” https://t.co/W1BjwKobX8 pic.twitter.com/FWzVHtZFEH
— CNBC (@CNBC) May 16, 2023
Over at Tesla, which Musk also owns, remote work is pretty much barred.
“Musk imposed a strict return-to-the-office policy for Tesla in June 2022, warning them they would lose their jobs if they refused to do so. Employees would need to spend a minimum of 40 hours at the office a week; anything less would be ‘phoning it in,'” according to The Verge.
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