“Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary pushed back on Martha Stewart’s dire warning to Americans to get back to the office, arguing the “economy has changed radically.”
During a Thursday appearance on Fox News‘ “Outnumbered,” O’Leary was asked about Stewart’s comments that “America” could “go down the drain” if people don’t go back to working in offices. He said the problem is people don’t feel safe anymore working in places like New York City and San Francisco due to the rise in crime.
“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,” O’Leary said. “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.”
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“And here are the areas of the sectors of the economy that they are not returning,” he added. “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% 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. ”
“The economy has changed radically,” O’Leary continued. “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. I don’t want to get shot on my way to work.”
“They’re war zones,” he said about cities like Chicago, San Francisco, parts of L.A., and NYC. “So, they want to work where they get their jobs done.”
The comments came after Stewart said that she’s going on a “rampage” to get people back in the office.
“You can’t possibly get everything done working three days a week in the office and two days remotely,” Stewart said in an interview published Monday. “Look at the success of France with their stupid… you know, off for August, blah blah blah.”
“That’s not a very thriving country,” she added. “Should America go down the drain because people don’t want to go back to work?”