Feb 8, 2024 - News

Mayor Jacob Frey's remote work joke doesn't land

Mayor Jacob Frey standing in his office

Jacob Frey. Ben Brewer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mayor Jacob Frey's needling of people who work from home set off a firestorm on social media.

What he said: "I don't know if you saw this study the other day. What this study clearly showed... is that when people who have the ability to come downtown to an office 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?"

State of play: The comments, made Wednesday before a crowd of about 1,000 people at the Minneapolis Downtown Council's annual meeting at the Armory, united remote workers and cat lovers in irritation.

Context: Frey, a cat owner himself, told Axios Wednesday night he was making a joke and the study isn't real. But he's been getting more forceful with his comments about people needing to come back to the office or to visit downtown, citing increased levels of depression since the pandemic.

What they're saying: People on X weren't happy with Frey's latest jab.

  • @TheSotaSwede posted a photo showing a row of beige cubicles and wrote "Don't be a loser and diddle on your laptop at home. Come diddle on your laptop on this fast paced energetic environment."
  • Parents also weighed in, stressing how much WFH has allowed them be around to take care of kids and pick them up from school earlier. Others said they're saving minutes or hours off commute times.

The other side: Political consultant Brian McClung wrote on X "Hey people — this is a joke. We need to allow politicians — and everyone — the opportunity to joke and play around. Let's all lighten up a bit. There's enough serious stuff in the world."

Between the lines: Frey's been a vocal booster of downtown and has been ramping up the pressure on businesses and workers to come back.

Yes, but: A recent survey of 158 U.S. CEOs found that almost all of them have either given up or deprioritized getting workers back in the office.

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