WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani believes the ongoing return to work debate is a potential way for businesses to identify their most engaged employees—they’re the ones that want to come back to the office, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“Those who are utterly engaged with the company want to go to the office two-thirds of the time, at least,” Mathrani said at The Wall Street Journal’s recent Future of Everything Festival. “Those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home.”Mathrani also noted that spending time at the office was critical for collaboration and efficiency. These comments have been roundly criticized from all sides.
“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 isn’t against a “hybrid” work model where workers would work remotely part of the time and report to the office the remainder of the week. He does feel that coming to the office at least part of the work week would let employees recreate the divide between their work and home lives that might have disappeared during the pandemic. Returning to the office could also potentially help workers fight, “Zoom fatigue”, according to Mathrani.
Meanwhile other executives like JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon have been vocal about the importance of getting employees back to the office. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan noted even he has experienced Zoom fatigue, according to The Wall Street Journal.
WeWork’s return to work vision
In March, WeWork finally achieved its goal of becoming a publicly traded company after its merger with SPAC BowX Acquistion Corp. Despite the co-working space provider’s financial ups and downs in recent years, Mathrani believes other companies will copy WeWork’s office model. Office spaces will feature an attractive, open floor plan, that’s clutter free and built to house a collaborative environment where employees can sign up for desks and conference rooms.
“A lot of the things this company did pre-pandemic is really what companies want to do post-pandemic,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
Mathrani also acknowledged former WeWork CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann’s achievements prior to him being ousted as Chief Executive.
“It’s easy to look at the things that went wrong,” Mathrani said regarding Neumann. “But there were a lot of things that went right when he created a brand that’s synonymous with flexibility.”
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Mathrani predicts that WeWork will be more known for providing flexible office space than being fun. The executive pulled no punches when asked if the company would bring beer on tap and tequila shots back to the WeWork offices.
“Fun is not defined by those aspects,” Mathrani told The Wall Street Journal. “I’m 59 years old. I’m uber serious, and so maybe having an adult in the room will change that.”
Joe Dyton can be reached at email@example.com.