WeWork CEO: 'Least engaged' staff prefer WFH

Will firms see a return to pre-pandemic working styles?

WeWork CEO: 'Least engaged' staff prefer WFH

An employee’s willingness to work from home, or from the office, is a measure of their engagement at work. Those who feel they are actively contributing, or “overly engaged,” are purportedly more likely to want to head back to the office than colleagues who don’t feel as engaged, according to WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani.

“No one is saying they don’t want to go to work. They are saying, ‘I wanna go to work two or three days a week,’ and ‘I’d like to work from home a day a week,’” Mathrani told The Wall Street Journal, without citing actual data. “It’s also pretty obvious that those who are overly engaged with the company want to go to the office two-thirds of the time at least. Those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home.”

Read more: Remote work: Are employees struggling to adapt?

The COVID-19 pandemic may have prompted the world’s workforce to handle tasks offsite, but the office remains the central hub for getting much of their work done and interacting with colleagues. After all, there are aspects of working in a physical office that remote staff might miss out on, Mathrani said.

In recent weeks, more companies have announced plans to head back to the office. Reactions from senior leaders have ranged from cautious to enthusiastic but, overall, they emphasised the need to collaborate in shared workspaces. Mathrani, for his part, cited “Zoom fatigue” as one of the top reasons employers are now shifting gears.

Read more: Employees strike after CEO's remote work op-ed

For the real estate veteran, the return to the worksite isn’t so much a question of whether employees would come back to a physical location but how frequently they would. “People are happier when they come to work,” the CEO said. “The bigger issue is: do you come to work five days a week or do you come to work three days a week?”

Mathrani, who took on the top job after founder Adam Neumann was booted out, believes businesses will return to the old norms of office space rental. “A lot of the things this company did pre-pandemic is really what companies want to do post-pandemic,” he said.

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