Martha Stewart's 'rampage' to end remote work stirs online ire and a Kevin O'Leary retort

Business executive Martha Stewart attends the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2023 issue release event at the Hard Rock Hotel New York on Thursday, May 18, 2023, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
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Homemaking savant Martha Stewart apparently doesn’t like the idea of a permanent home office.

Just weeks after she was praised for posing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue at age 81, Stewart is catching serious side-eye for going on a self-proclaimed “rampage” to end remote work.

“You can’t possibly get everything done working three days a week in the office and two days remotely,” she told Footwear News earlier this week. “Look at the success of France with their stupid … you know, off for August, blah blah blah. That’s not a very thriving country. Should America go down the drain because people don’t want to go back to work?”

Stewart doubled down on the remarks during a Wednesday appearance on “Today With Hoda & Jenna,” during which she said she “just doesn’t agree with it.”

“It’s just that my kind of work is very creative and it is very collaborative, and I cannot really stomach another Zoom here, Zoom there,” she said. “It just doesn’t get the work done in the right way.”

“It’s frightening because if you read the economic news and look at what’s happening everywhere in the world, a three-day workweek doesn’t get the work done, doesn’t get the productivity up,” she added. “It doesn’t help with the economy, and I think that’s very important.”

Now the iconic businesswoman and television personality is catching flack for her comments.

Appearing Thursday on "Outnumbered" on Fox News, Kevin O'Leary, a venture capitalist known as "Mr. Wonderful" on the television show "Shark Tank," clapped back at Stewart.

"The economy has changed radically. The problem with saying everybody has to work in the office is you won't be able to hire the best talent," O'Leary said. "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 ... I'm not doing it. I don't want to get shot on my way to work.'"

"This is another problem, safety in large cities like Chicago, San Francisco, some parts in New York City, [and] L.A. these days," he added. "Nobody wants to work in these places, they're war zones, and so they want to work where they get their job done."

"Frankly, if you say everybody has to come to the office, you'll get the third-tier candidates ... And I care about talent. I want great team members. And if they tell me, 'I don't want to work in an office, but I'm number one at what I do.' I'll go with number one at what I do," O'Leary concluded.

And of course, social media side-eye ensued.

"I love Martha Stewart, but my hot take is that bosses/company owners are so against remote work because it is solely reliant on your contributions and productivity. Remote work cuts the BS, and a lot of bosses’ jobs are actually just BS," wrote Twitter user @Gbaccii.

"Martha Stewart has had such a renaissance and garnered a lot of goodwill recently ... not sure why she would squander that by getting into the remote work debate and being anti remote 🥴 like where was her PR person to intervene," tweeted @CarolinaBayuelo.

Another Twitter user, @RachelsRising, weighed in saying, "Martha Stewart is a wealthy woman who had an entire television show *from* her house. She also was able to STILL be successful after prison time, which demonstrates the amount of privilege she holds. She needs to sit this remote work conversation out."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.