Article: Is Malcolm Gladwell wrong about the work-from-home trend?

Employee Engagement

Is Malcolm Gladwell wrong about the work-from-home trend?

Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, who is also a staff writer for The New Yorker, is well-known for his preference of working remotely at cafes and restaurants instead of reporting in the office.
Is Malcolm Gladwell wrong about the work-from-home trend?

Recent workplace trends have forced thousands of people to work from their homes, but it’s far from the best choice if one popular Canadian author is to be believed.

Malcolm Gladwell, writer of the best-selling books The Tipping Point and Outliers, recently spoke out against the idea of working from home during an interview with The Diary Of A CEO podcast. He said that the trend is “hurting society” and that employees will most likely go back to the office if a recession were to happen in the future.

Gladwell, who is also a staff writer for The New Yorker, is well-known for his preference of working remotely at cafes and restaurants instead of reporting in the office. However, it didn’t seem to stop him from sharing his thoughts against the practice.

“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,” the author told the podcast’s host, Steven Bartlett.

Gladwell pointed out that it was not in the best interest of people to be working at home.

“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?” he said. “Don’t you want to feel part of something?”

The author also expressed his frustration with how business leaders are unable to explain the situation effectively to their workers. 

Gladwell’s remarks were quickly met with heavy criticism from the public. Hundreds of people flocked to social media to voice their anger against the author.

Read more: Humanising the hybrid workplace

Controversial WFH hot take 

Gladwell’s remarks were quickly met with heavy criticism from the public. Hundreds of people flocked to social media to voice their anger at the author.

“Presumably it was a different Malcolm Gladwell (twin brother?) who wrote enthusiastically and often about working from coffee shops,” one Twitter user wrote.

“What’s he going to write about if we are all free of workplace anxieties[?],” another one tweeted.

Another Twitter user slammed the author for criticising WFH in front of Bartlett, who is a head of a company himself.

Read more: Author Salman Rushdie on the road to recovery after near-fatal stabbing

“[M]alcolm [G]ladwell literally crying to a CEO (of a social media marketing company) about how important what the CEO does is and how we'll all be empty inside if we don't go back to the office (of social media marketing companies),” the user said.

Michael Donohoe, former Director of Product Engineering at The New Yorker, tweeted that he never saw Gladwell at his desk or in the office during his time at the magazine.

As controversial as Gladwell’s take may be, it appears that many employers share his point of view on remote working.

In May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told employees via an internal memo that remote work was no longer acceptable at the company. He later tweeted that remote workers were only pretending to work.

Meanwhile, in February, Goldman Sachs chief David Solomon gave his infamous statement calling remote work as “an aberration that we’re going to correct as quickly as possible.”

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Life @ Work, #RemoteWork

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