WeWork CEO responds after getting roasted for his comments that the ‘least engaged’ employees want to keep working from home

Wework
A man walks past a WeWork in Tokyo on May 18, 2020. KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images
  • WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani said he didn’t intend to “cast a negative light” on working from home.
  • He said last week that only the “least engaged” employees want to continue working remotely.
  • Tech CEOs were quick to criticize the remark given WeWork’s vested interest in offices reopening.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

WeWork’s CEO has responded to the online backlash surrounding his comments on working from home.

Sandeep Mathrani, who took the helm at the embattled coworking startup last year, said during The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything festival last week that only the “least engaged” employees want to continue working from home after it’s safe to return to the office

“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,” Mathrani said.

Following the interview, online commenters and Mathrani’s fellow CEOs were quick to point out that, as the the CEO of a commercial real estate company, he has a vested interest in employees returning to the office. Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud content management firm Box, and Uber Dara Khosrowshahi both joked online that the most engaged employees were those who use Box and Uber products religiously.

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In response to the backlash, Mathrani clarified his comments in a post on LinkedIn.

“It was not my intent to cast a negative light on those who are working from home and I apologize if my comments were not clear,” he wrote.

Mathrani cited a report that WeWork published last month showing that employees are “energized about choice, about finding new ways to work” and that CEOs are “committed to providing options that work best for their people.”

“We will always continue to champion solutions that can actually meet the diverse needs of our workforce – whether that be working from home, utilizing drop-in space, going to a corporate office, or a hybrid of these options,” he said.

He added that WeWork believes the future of work “is hybrid and it is flexible,” and that it’s WeWork’s goal to enable that for its workforce.