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Minneapolis mayor Frey: Remote work makes you ‘become a loser’

By Jake Beardslee · February 8, 2024

In brief…

  • Mayor jokingly claimed remote work turns people into "losers" according to fictional study
  • Urged Minneapolis downtown employees to return to office to help economy
  • Many downtown office spaces vacant since COVID-19 onset and shift to remote work
  • Spokesperson confirmed mayor was joking, not referencing real study
  • Mayor hopes returning workers will revive struggling downtown district
Minneapolis mayor Frey joked about remote work, and asked downtown employees to return to offices in hopes of stimulating local economy.  Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States/Wikimedia

During an address at the Minneapolis Downtown Council’s annual meeting on Wednesday, Mayor Jacob Frey took a jab at remote work while encouraging downtown employees to return to the office.

“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 but don’t,” Frey said, according to The New York Post. “When they stay home, sitting on their couch with their nasty cat blanket, diddlin’ 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?”

The mayor’s comments were met with laughter, as he was joking - there is no such study. Many downtown Minneapolis office buildings and storefronts have sat vacant since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as companies shifted to remote work models. Mayor Frey urged the crowd to help revive downtown by returning to work in-person.

“Come experience the greatness of downtown,” Frey implored. “Come back to work.”

When questioned about the fictional study, a spokesperson for the mayor confirmed he was joking, according to The Post. The lighthearted jab speaks to a serious issue facing city centers across the country. With remote work allowing employees to stay home, downtown districts have suffered economically. Mayor Frey hopes to breathe new life into Minneapolis’ downtown by encouraging workers to return to the office.

“We’re winners, we’re resilient, we’re tough, we’re strong, we’re innovative,” Frey concluded. “We rise to the challenge, we get knocked down seven times, and we get back up eight. That is who we are as a city.”