The mayor of a major U.S. city thinks remote work is turning people into ‘losers’

Working from an office seems fun until you realize the pure, unbridled joy in getting to the office. 

Wake up, take a shower, brush your teeth, take the coffee in a to-go cup, start the car, hit the highway to sit in traffic, listen to 3+ podcast episodes before arriving at the office parking garage downtown, only to do the same in reverse later in the day — where only God knows what kind of commuting shenanigans can play out on the way back home. 

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Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey greets supporters as he arrives at an Election Night party on Nov. 2, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn.

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

With the covid pandemic making major changes to the dynamics of office life, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey had some choice words to say about those who are still taking advantage of covid-era policies in front of a packed house at the Minneapolis Downtown Council. 

“I don’t know if you saw this study the other day, but what this study clearly shows, is when people have the ability to come downtown to an office and don’t, when they stay home, sitting on their couch with their nasty cat blanket diddling on their laptop … if they do that for a few months, you become a loser! It’s a study. We’re not losers, are we?” he asked. 

“No we’re winners, we’re resilient, we’re tough we’re strong, we’re innovative, we rise to the challenge, we get knocked down seven times and we get back up eight, that’s who we are as a city.”

A spokesperson for the mayor told Fox’s Minneapolis affiliate that the ‘loser’ statement was meant as a joke. 

Joke, or not, the numbers behind hybrid and remote work suggest that they are as popular with the workforce as they were during the pandemic. 

According to a February 2024 update on a study by professors at Stanford University, the University of Chicago and ITAM, 42% of full-time employees are either in a hybrid work schedule or work fully work from home. 

In the same study, nearly 25% of respondents said that a fully in-person work schedule would be best for their physical health, while 19% and 17.1% of respondents said that having two, or three days at home would be best, respectively. In the same vein, nearly 24% of respondents said that a fully remote position would be best for their mental health, while 18.9% and 17.3% of respondents said that having two or three days at home would be best, respectively.

A Green Line train is seen heading out of downtown Minneapolis. 

Star Tribune via Getty Images/Getty Images

However, attitudes about remote work does not mean good news for Mayor Frey. Less time at work means less time and less money spent downtown — which was the initial message he intended to get across with his statement, as he aims to revitalize his city.  

“Come experience the greatness of downtown [Minneapolis],” pleaded the mayor at the same event. “Come back to work.”

Mayor Frey’s comments on Wednesday echoes a similar, but guided sentiment he expressed in a December 2023 interview with the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal where he reflected on the impact of remote work on downtown Minneapolis. 

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“It’s easy to forget all the things that you love about downtown when you’ve been sitting on your couch for the last two years watching Netflix,” the mayor said. 

“‘Come back.’ That’s what I’m saying. That’s my job. It’s the best thing for Minneapolis, it’s the best thing for downtown.”

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