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WeWork CEO Says 'Least Engaged' Employees Prefer Working From Home

Sandeep Mathrani's first day as WeWork CEO was Feb. 18, 2020.

How to bring employees back into the office is a thorny question for companies everywhere, but to WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani, there is a clear connection between the desire to work in person and passion for the job.

“Those who are uberly engaged with the company want to go to the office two-thirds of the time, at least,” Mathrani said on a podcast interview with The Wall Street Journal. “Those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home.” 

Mathrani said that multiple studies support that point, and one such study was conducted by WeWork itself, in collaboration with Workplace Intelligence. That study concluded that employees who are satisfied and engaged want to work from home 27% of the time, from a company's headquarters 36% of the time and at other locations 37% of the time. Workers with low satisfaction and engagement want to spend roughly the same amount of time at a company's headquarters but 46% of their time at home and 17% at other locations.

“No one is saying they don’t want to go to work," Mathrani told WSJ. "They’re saying, ‘I want to go to work two, three days a week, I want to work from whatever my place is, my comfort zone, a day or two a week, and I want to work from home a day a week.”

People's situations differ, but some believe that reluctance to return to the office is a result of needing more time and space to process traumatic experiences caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Fortune reports. An increase in flexibility over where one works could also address the gender equity issue of the uneven burden often placed on women to be both workers and caretakers.

Still, as vaccinations rise, more companies are preparing to pull their workers back into the office. For many of them, that process involves being more open and receptive to employee concerns than they ever had been before. But Mathrani said the issue is more straightforward.

“It’s the tone from the top," Mathrani said. "I think that if the tone from the top said you’ve got to start to come to work, I think people would come. I think people like to stretch the limits.”