Legendary businessman and “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary recently sat down with Fox News show “Outnumbered” where he addressed his stance on the trend of remote work. He responded to comments made by Martha Stewart, who slammed remote work, claiming it hindered business productivity.
O’Leary disagreed with Stewart’s stance for several reasons and claimed that companies would struggle to hire the best talent if they did not offer remote work as an incentive. Especially in large metropolitan areas where long commutes are typical and crime is ever-rising, few people are willing to work in-office five days.
O’Leary discussed how our economy has fundamentally changed. The pandemic forced many companies to set up remote work capabilities for employees. Now, some employees are reluctant to return to the prior in-office model. The “Shark Tank” star pointed out that far more people than previously anticipated are sticking with remote work. He said, “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% wouldn’t return. We’re wrong. It’s 40.”
The businessman points out the primary sectors not returning to the old office model, including compliance, accounting, financial services, and logistics. These roles were traditionally confined to cubicles and “basements” of corporations. O’Leary predicts some of these office spaces will never be occupied again and will have to convert into residences or storage facilities.
Continuing on how the economy has “radically” changed, he explained that companies would have to compete to offer the most favorable remote capabilities to attract talent. “The problem with saying everybody has to work in the office is you won’t be able to hire the best talent,” O’Leary said.
People have also discovered the benefits of not having to make long commutes to the office each day from working remotely. An individual will have so much more flexibility in their day if they don’t have to spend time sitting in traffic. Particularly in New York City, ranked as the worst commute in the United States, a commuter spends over an hour on average in traffic.
Furthermore, crime has been worsening in many large cities in the U.S., which has many employees questioning the need to commute to urban areas. O’Leary said, “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 continued saying, “I don’t want to get shot on my way to work,” and slammed some cities as “war zones.” “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,” O’Leary concluded.
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