WeWork CEO Catches Flack After Saying ‘Least Engaged’ Workers Want to Stay Home
During an WSJ event on Wednesday, Mathrani said companies can easily identify their most “engaged” employees because they’re the ones itching to return to the office after the pandemic.
“Those who are uberly engaged with the company want to go to the office two-thirds of the time, at least,” Mathrani said, according to WSJ. “Those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home.”
Mathrani added that returning to the office part-time would help employees set better work and home boundaries and combat Zoom fatigue.
“People are happier when they come to work,” Mathrani said. “The bigger issue is do you come to work five days a week or do you come to work three days a week? That’s the bigger issue. There’s no issue of not coming to a common place.”
Mathrani took heat online for his comments, with many pointing out that Mathrani has an obvious incentive to push for the return to office since his money-burning company’s business model is predicated on renting flexible space.
“While this tone-deaf commentary is saddening what did we expect from a @WeWork exec?” Hilton Barbour wrote on Twitter. “Like an airline CEO saying ‘get on a plane’ are we really shocked?”
“Productive and engaged employees also prefer home work,” Twitter user @rebelheartedfox wrote. “Fuck off with that ‘office culture’ that breeds every sort of fucking harassment possible.”
And while some on Twitter did admit to wishing for a return to the office, they wrote they were still just as productive at home.
“I’m anxious to go back to an office & work with my colleagues in person but idea that #WFH means you’re less engaged is utter nonsense,” @npnigro wrote on Twitter. “WeWork should be promoting hybrid work that includes some staff that mostly #WFH because it would help their business. Instead … this garbage.”
A spokesperson for WeWork did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mathrani isn’t the only CEO to get in hot water recently over comments about the return to work.
Last week, Cathy Merrill, the CEO of D.C. magazine the Washingtonian, caused her staff to mutiny after penning an op-ed in The Washington Post that many saw as threatening staffers if they did not return to the office.
Merrill argued that employers had a “tempting economic option” to demote staff to “contractor” status if they chose to miss out on “extra” in-person office interactions.
While Merrill later walked back her comments in an internal memo, the Washingtonian halted publishing for a day in protest.
“We’re just a little baffled,” a Washingtonian staff member previously told Commercial Observer. “In the middle of the pandemic, to have health insurance brought into the conversation for us, I think, was definitely very concerning.”
More and more companies have started to call their staff back to the office after the coronavirus pandemic forced them home, but the majority of workers don’t want to be there full time.
A JLL survey of 2,000 workers around the world found that 72 percent of employees want to be able to work from home more during the workweek. Only 24 percent said they wanted to return to the office on a full-time basis.