CEO Of This $7 Billion Startup Says WFH Employees Have Worst Engagement!

Coworking space firm WeWork’s new CEO Sandeep Mathrani has said that those who show up to the office are more engaged compared to those working from home. 

Coworking space firm WeWork’s new CEO Sandeep Mathrani has said that those who show up to the office are more engaged compared to those working from home. 


How Do You Determine Employee Engagement?

According to him, those who opt to work from home (WFH) are the least engaged with their company. 

Those who choose to report to their office are more engaged with their work, overly so. 

Those overly engaged, according to Mathrani, wish to attend office at least 2/3rds of the time, something which is apparently “pretty obvious”.

The remote staff are missing out on things that home offices just do not provide, such as a common hub for work, collaboration and socialisation.

He says that all these aspects also contribute to employee happiness. 

The coworking firm’s business depends on people leaving their homes for work and the new CEO may be trying to drum up enthusiasm for the same. 

As he puts it, it is not a question of whether at all employees will return to office but the frequency in which they will. 

Office-Centric Culture Vs “Zoom Fatigue”

He advocated for the office culture being an important part of the company culture itself, along with collaboration and innovation. 

He added that many executives were experiencing “Zoom fatigue”, that is, burnout from the constant barrage of video conferencing.

Despite adaptive measures to compensate for lack of in-person socialisation, such as virtual games and parties, issues such as technical problems, professional expectations among others have dampened the overall experience.

People have been turning to audio-only calls and switching off their webcams as a way to combat the fatigue. 

Hybrid Work Model, WFH Or Complete Return To Office?

Many companies have adopted a hybrid work model where employees turn up to the office a few days a week and work from home the rest.

Though some firms have gone with the flow and allowed for permanent WFH, others have been adamant about a return to office as soon as possible. 

The latter include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Netflix and Amazon. 

The heads of these firms have lamented the lack of spontaneous conversation with clients or coworkers, learning and innovation which only an office-centric culture can provide. 

Remote Workers’ Experience

Mathrani’s comments do not resonate with a lot of people, as many working from home report more productivity. 

They are happy about the improved work-life balance because of increased time spent with family instead of commuting. 

For certain families with additional child-care responsibilities, the WFH model has been a blessing. 

Many have, in fact, insisted that they would quit if it is made mandatory for them to return to the office. 

Employers have also extolled its benefits when it comes to employee retention and attraction.

Response Of Fellow Industry Executives

The industry wide response to Mathrani’s comments have been that of mockery and disagreement. 

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted using some key words that “The most engaged employees always take Uber to work and order UberEats so they can skip those pesky long lunches.”

Microsoft VP Ann Johnson has opined that if engagement is dependent on office attendance, then there is a larger organisational issue which has more to do with leadership than the employees.

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