Malcolm Gladwell touched a nerve on social media last week as thousands of remote workers took to Twitter to denounce the renowned author for suggesting that those who “sit in their pajamas” at home cannot “have a feeling of belonging” or “feel necessary.”
Twitter users pointed out that Gladwell, the Canadian journalist and New Yorker staff writer who authored bestsellers including “The Tipping Point” and “Outliers,” once extolled the virtues of working from outside the office.
“If you’re just sitting in your pajamas in your bedroom, is that the work life you wanna live?” Gladwell told “Diary of a CEO” business podcaster Steven Bartlett recently.
“We want you to have a feeling of belonging, and to feel necessary. And if you’re not here, it’s really hard to do that.”
Gladwell is also co-founder of Pushkin Industries, a New York City-based publisher of podcasts and audiobooks. He was asked by Bartlett about the problems he faces in convincing his employees to return to the office.
Mary McNamara, a culture columnist for the Los Angeles Times, took umbrage with Gladwell, declaring: “I’m working in my jammies and I’m just fine.”
McNamara writes in the LA Times that Gladwell’s comments are “pretty rich coming from an author who does not work in an office.”
She then notes that Gladwell has “written extensively about aversion to offices and his subsequent choice to write from his home and in cafes.”
In 2005, Gladwell told The Guardian that he wrote his bestseller “Blink” while gallivanting around New York, Rome and London.
“I refer to my writing as ‘rotating’,” Gladwell told The Guardian.
“I always say ‘I’m going to rotate’ because I have a series of spots that I rotate.”
In 2010, Gladwell penned a guest op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in which he describes his experiences working from coffee shops in New York, Paris, Zurich, Toronto and London.
This prompted McNamara to observe: “Although it is not at all surprising that a writer of books and essays would work from home (though cafes? come on), it is always delicious when someone puts their big ol’ foot in a pile of ‘do what I say not what I do’.”
Twitter users were more scathing.
“No s–t Malcolm Gladwell thinks I’m not good at working from home yet,” quipped Ginny Hogan. “I’ve only been doing it for 8792 hours.”
Hogan’s tweet referenced the “10,000 hour rule,” which Gladwell describes in his book “Outliers.” According to Gladwell, attaining mastery at any skill requires a minimum of 10,000 hours of intense practice.
Twitter user Mike Drucker tweeted: “Malcolm Gladwell needs you at your cubicle if he’s going to write more pseudoscience self-help books marketed to dummies who were in a gifted class forty years ago.”
Dan Price, the CEO of Seattle-based payments processor Gravity Payments who made news years ago when he slashed his salary from more than $1 million per year to around $70,000 annually, said his firm has only benefited from working remotely.
Price chimed in: “I’m CEO of a company that went remote two years ago. Last year we had our highest revenue and lowest employee turnover in our history (in 19 years). We also had about 300 applications per job opening.”
The Post has sought comment from Gladwell.
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