Here’s the Latest WE:Brief – WE keep you in the know!

  • Republicans are far more skeptical of WFH productivity than Democrats 
  • Half of Grindr’s Workforce Resigns Over RTO Mandate
  • Gender Gap in Workforce Participation and Pay Reaches Record Low
  • Global Survey Shows Less Than Half of Adults Trust CEOs to Do the Right Thing
  • The Untapped Potential in Holistic Flexibility—Lessons From Neurodiversity
  • Millions to Benefit (Or Not) From Britain’s Flexible Working Bill
  • Sponsor Spotlight: MovePlan
  • Don’t miss a single WE session at World Workplace Denver
  • Limited Availability for IFMA’s Workplace Strategy & Leadership Program—Reserve Now!
Republicans are more skeptical about WFH productivity than Democrats and independents. 
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
Gallup’s latest WFH data shows 42% percent of Republicans believe employees who WFH are less productive than on-site workers, compared with 23% of independents and 13% of Democrats. 
Other trends the new data reveals:
– Overall, 73% of U.S. adults think remote workers are just as or more productive than their in-office colleagues.
– The average frequency of WFH, among those who have ever done so, is 1.9 days a week. This represents a 35% decrease from the peak of the pandemic (when the average was 3 days a week), and a 33% increase over the frequency in 2019 (1.5 days a week).
– Of the people who WFH, 63% now do so instead of traveling to an office. rather than working from home after-hours in addition to their in office work
#wfh #remotework #distributedwork #productivity #gallup 
The dating app told employees last month they had to work from an office twice a week.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
The online dating site, Grindr, gave its workforce the choice of working in the office twice a week or receiving a six month severance package. Around 80 of 178 employees took them up on it. 


Workers claim the ultimatum, which came in August, was in retaliation for a unionization attempt in July. Whether it was or was not, the loss of trust almost certainly played a role in the big exodus. 


#trust #remote #hybrid #unionization #resignation #turnover
“True, sustainable flexibility is about more than just work location and hours. It encompasses which tasks people do and how they get them done. It’s about making work “fit” people, not the other way around. When organizations center the design of work on humans, values, and long-term success in this way people become productive, resilient, inclusive, and equitable.”
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
The opportunities for employee flexibility go way beyond the where and when of work. The author’s specialty in neurodiversity has led her to discover a mindset of “comprehensive flexibility” would benefit not just those with a disability or neurodivergence; it would minimize stress and maximize productivity for everyone regardless of gender, race, caregiving, and socio-economic status.


By “comprehensive flexibility,” the author means a broad palette of choice in when, where, how much, how regularly, and how consistently a person works. She offers examples of organizations like Lemon Tree Hotels, Ultranauts, and Siemens that offer flex options such as part-time or seasonal work as well as sabbaticals, job-sharing, variable work days, and job-crafting.


We don’t hear much about job-crafting— breaking jobs into smaller chunks and reassembling them in a way that better fits the individual—but we will. Imagine if you could do just the parts of the job you enjoy! And you could do them when, where, and how you wanted. 


“It’s about making work “fit” people, not the other way around,” says Praslova.” When organizations center the design of work on humans, values, and long-term success in this way, they become productive, resilient, inclusive, and equitable.”
Space is a valuable asset. With more businesses providing hybrid / flexible working policies, it’s important to understand how best to use a workspace. It’s also critical to ensure any workplace transformation is correctly implemented from the outset. MovePlan works with leadership teams to prepare, equip and support employees to use workspaces effectively and adopt new behaviours efficiently—positively impacting how they use their workspace, service clients and deliver a positive workplace experience for all.
Lack of faith in societal institutions triggered by economic anxiety, disinformation, mass-class divide, and a failure of leadership brought us to where we are today – deeply polarized.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
The trust crisis goes far beyond how managers feel about their workers. The Edelman Trust Barometer, a survey of 32k adults from 28 countries, shows:
– Compared to 2022, trust in business declined in over half of countries surveyed
– Only 40% of respondents trust they will be better off in 5 years (down 10 percentage points from 2022)
– Nearly 90% are worried about losing their job
– Only 48% trust CEOs to “do what is right”
– Respondents want business leaders to step up their game on social issues. They were over six times more likely to say business leaders should be doing more, rather than less, about climate change, income inequality, energy shortages, and healthcare access, and five times more likely to say the same about workforce up-skilling
– Over 70% felt CEOs are obligated to expose questionable science that is used to justify bad policy and/or pull money from platforms that spread misinformation
The trends vary substantially between countries. Download the full report for the details.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
Here is a schedule of what WE has planned for IFMA’s World Workplace in Denver (Sept 25-29)! 

Tuesday’s Half-Day Event at Gensler’s Denver Office (9/26, 10-2):
WE Converge—an intimate dialog on shaping the future of urban workspaces. This half-day session is free, but seats are limited. Reserve your spot here.

Wednesday’s lineup (9/27):
• What’s new with WE, a quick overview of all WE has to offer from the WE leadership team
• The Emerging Role of the Chief Workplace Officer with Leni Rivera
• Structured Choice: Creating a Structure for Flexibility with John H. Vivadelli
• ESG By The Numbers with Suki Reilly, MCR.w, SLCR
• WE: What’s Next and Close with Kate North and Michelle Weiss
• Fun and Networking at the combined WE/IT/EMEA Social—Reservations required! Advance sign-up required; limited seats. Sign up in advance:

Thursday’s lineup (9/28):
• The Future of Work: Navigating Emerging Technologies and Leveraging Data to Attract Talent with Henry Massey & Kate Lister. Spoiler: There will be an exciting first-ever reveal of the WE Metaverse created just for WE by Elora Partners
• Optimizing the Triple Bottom Line—What promises to be a lively debate about which way the ‘where we work’ pendulum will swing? Moderated by WE Moshpit co-founder, David Gray, MCR.w

Friday’s lineup (9/29)
• The Circular Workplace, a cross-community initiative and case study in practice with Gary Miciunas and Lisa Whited
• Panel Discussion on the Latest Findings from IFMA’s Expert Assessment with Jeffrey SaundersDr. Marie PuybaraudLuis R. ViñaKay SargentPeter Ankerstjerne, and WE founder Kate North

Download all the details here.  
The greatest contributors to the post-COVID rebound in labor force participation are prime-age women–remarkably, those with young children.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
The gender pay and workforce participation gap is at its lowest ever. The research by Brookings identified a surprise bounce back from the start of the pandemic, which initially widened both gaps. While women’s participation in the labor force increased across all age brackets, the largest shift was among women with children under the age of five. Though this group’s representation in the labor force is still nearly ten percentage points lower than it is for women with older or no children (70.4% vs. 80%), the increase marks the reversal of a decades-long decline.


The study suggests the increase in participation could be due to the increase in flexible work practices, Covid-related fiscal and health policies that made it easier for mothers of young children to have a job, and possibly a reversal of maternity patterns. 

Millions of British workers will have more flexibility over where and when they work as the Flexible Working Bill achieves Royal Assent.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
Perhaps we should be celebrating over this, but I’ve watched programs like this play out over many years and, well, I’m not convinced this is the way to move the needle on flexibility. Problem is, I can make whatever flexibility requests I want over and over and my employer can reject them over and over.


Why not start with the assumption that people are entitled to flexibility, particularly if it was proven to work during the pandemic? Then put the onus on employers to prove why they can’t flex their time or place of work.
Welcome to the Workplace Strategy & Leadership Program, Module 1. 
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
IFMA’s Award Winning Workplace Strategy & Leadership Program (WSLP)
Gain an edge in today’s competitive business environment by creating exceptional user experiences that boost human performance. Learn about transforming the workplace into a strategic asset and coordinating all the disciplines / infrastructure needed to advance the business goals while supporting people in doing their best work. 
WSLP is the only Workplace Strategy education curriculum endorsed by IFMA. Earn your WSLP Certificate of Completion, Badge and CEUs.
Download the WSLP flyer here.
New sessions start in October, 2023 and January, 2024. Register here:


  • Employment among those with disabilities hit a record high and is still climbing!
  • A must-read: The Impact of the Pandemic on the Real Estate Market (McKinsey Institute) 
  • GAO Report shows the majority of Federal office buildings are less than 25% occupied
  • The richest countries in the world will run out of workers over the next three decades
  • Unexpected work-from-home and AI humor from an academic journal
  • “Returning for Good” report uncovers globally nuanced data on the struggle to bring employees back to the office
  • Meta’s, um, retro solution to the noisy office
  • Large companies banning ChatGPT. Should yours?
  • College grads are rejecting big city jobs in a big way
  • WE Sponsor Spotlight 
In this McKinsey study, we look at how the pandemic has affected the real estate market in the world’s biggest cities and what we can expect to see next.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
This 88-page report from the McKinsey Institute is a must read for our industry. It looks at how the pandemic has affected, and will likely continue to affect, where people work, live, and shop in the world’s largest cities. Here are a some highlights from just the first ten pages: 
– Their moderate scenario estimates the decline in demand for urban office space to be, on average, 13% lower in 2030 than in 2019. The severe scenario puts the decline at 38%.
– The estimated decline in value associated with those scenarios is between 26% ($800B) and 42%.
– The impact will be vastly different from one city to the next. San Francisco, New York, and Munich will be the hardest hit.
– Office occupancy dropped by 90% at the peak of the lockdown. Currently, it is still down 30% from the pre-pandemic level. 
– On average, office workers were in the office 3.5 days a week. That frequency was slightly less among the professional services and information sectors (3 days and 3.2 days, respectively).
– Up to 7% of people made a permanent move from the city during the pandemic. The greatest outbound migration occurred in Dallas, New York, and San Francisco.
– Foot traffic near urban stores is 36% lower than it was before the pandemic. Owing to increased online shopping, suburban stores saw a 16% decline.
– Transaction volume (the total dollar value of all sales) fell by 57% in the top US cities, the average sale price per square foot fell by 20%, and asking rents fell by nearly 22% (all in real terms) from 2019 to 2022.



The most powerful countries have benefited from large work forces for decades. What happens when they retire?
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
“To cope (with aging populations), experts say, rich countries will need to rethink pensions, immigration policies, and what life in old age looks like.”


In 2013, a quarter of the population of Japan was over 65 years of age. In all of recorded history, no population has ever been as old as Japan’s is now and others are expected to get there over the next ten to thirty years. By 2032, most of Western Europe will hit the twenty-five percent mark, and by 2044, South Korea, Britain, and Eastern Europe will do the same.


Meanwhile, the working populations of developing countries are growing.


In 1990, eight of the ten largest economies in the world also had the highest percentage of working age citizens. According to World Bank data, by 2023, only two were in the top ten (South Korea and China) and by 2050, India will be the only country on the list. If these predictions prove correct and the aging countries don’t prepare for a shrinking percentage of their working age populations, they may face a gradual decline in well-being and economic power. 
Unispace conducted a global survey of 16,000+ employees from over 6,000 employers in 17 countries to better understand the differences and similarities of attitudes regarding the return to office.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
It’s a 158-page treasure trove of nuanced insights about the impact of return-to-office mandates on employee attitudes and intentions, company plans regarding real estate, space design, incentivizing RTO strategies, uptake of the four-day workweek, employee location preferences for different types of work, and much more! Individual reports are provided for a number of countries and regions.
Many employers still don’t know what to do about Generative AI at work.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
While many have embraced ChatGPT and similar AI technologies, companies including JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Verizon, Northrop Grumman, Samsung, Amazon, and Accenture have, at least for now, blocked employees from accessing them. The majority have done so for, what they consider to be, safety reasons.


It’s not that they are rejecting the potential utility of the technology, but they worry that, left unchecked, employees could inadvertently expose private customer data and/or intellectual property.


If you or your company is using ChatGPT, and let’s face it most are, be sure you/they understand that what goes into most of these intriguing platforms, feeds the algorithm and could, therefore, come out. 
AWA can support you with your hybrid working strategy, workplace management, change management and leadership training.


AWA is the leading global independent consultancy transforming the world of work.  Using a strategic blend of science, research and creativity, AWA believes the DNA of work is the connection between us all.


With more than 30 years’ experience, AWA’s team of global consultants located in Europe, the US, Canada, the Americas and Asia, are experts in workplace innovation, transformation, culture and experience. 


Through innovative, integrated and evidence-based future work strategies, research and training, AWA enables organisations to make a crucial step change in the performance their people and their business by incorporating new ways of smart working. 
While the remote work boom helped some workers find additional flexibility, it has also eliminated longstanding obstacles for this vulnerable community.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
Remote work advocates have long suggested that remote work would help create employment opportunities for those with physical or mental disabilities. It turns out WE/they were right. More than 1.5 million workers in this category have joined the workforce since prior to the pandemic. While there is still a long way to go, the employment-to-population ratio among those formally designated as disabled stands at a record high of over 22% and it’s growing at a rapid pace since mid-2020. 


Allison Chase, president and CEO of The Able Trust, a Florida-based nonprofit focused on the disabled community says “basic transportation is one of the biggest barriers many people with disabilities have faced when looking for work. The post-pandemic remote-work boom has helped to eliminate that obstacle.”


Experts estimate that one-quarter of the U.S. population lives with a disability, but 70% are not counted. As a result of stigmas, fear, and other barriers, only 4% of workers self-identify as disabled. Those whose disabilities are cognitive in nature, are particularly “invisible.” And a 2023 report from PWC‚ a good read on its own, indicates that only 13% of companies are actively addressing neurodiversity. 


Unfortunately, even the ADA does not automatically protect even those with a formal disability designation from being required to be in the office. This needs to change if we want to expand opportunities for not just this group, but other marginalized populations such as those who live with undisclosed disabilities, military spouses, caregivers, and others. 
The federal government’s office spaces cost billions every year to lease, operate, and maintain. Even before the pandemic, agencies struggled.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
A new GAO report shows the large majority of the US federal government’s nearly 700 million square feet of owned and leased space is less than 25% occupied. This is based on occupancy data (as measured by space usage vs. capacity) from 24 agencies that account for nearly 98% of the government’s real property. The GAO testimony indicated:
– All of the agencies had completed their return to office transition by the end of 2022 and occupancy has since stabilized.
– The annual cost of leasing and operating those buildings totals approximately $7B a year.
– More than half of 180 million square feet of leased space will be up for renewal in the next three to four years  
– Seventeen of the 24 agencies reported occupancy of less than 25%. Among the other seven agencies, none reported occupancy higher than 49%. 
The report identified three primary causes for the low utilization: 
– Agencies have long retained more space than they needed
– Much of the space is not configured to support a modern workforce
– In-office work has not returned to pre-pandemic levels due to continued telework.


The major transformation in the where of modern workplaces is about to collide with a transformation in who is doing that work.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
This article comes from a respected peer-reviewed journal (JSTOR). It’s interesting in its own right, but what I enjoyed were the unexpected giggles about AI and remote work. Though the author probably didn’t set out to be funny but I did get a giggle from these lines:


Citing a Gallup survey that found 94% of employees in remote-capable jobs want to keep working from home at least part of the time, the author concludes “We might miss the human contact with colleagues, but we don’t miss it enough to put on pants and go to the office every day.”


In defense of some of the criticisms around the current AI offerings the author writes “An always-on, nearly infinitely knowledgeable colleague who is happy to brainstorm or spitball on the subjects of your choice. So maybe it’s a little prone to spouting false info, but really, is that any different from the reliability of human colleagues?”


And regarding the argument that there are just as many interruptions at home as there are in the office the author notes “Sure, your dog might bark—but he doesn’t expect you to answer!”
“The Cube,” which the company is beginning to roll out to offices worldwide after months of development, absorbs sound from multiple directions, says John Tenanes, vice president of global real estate and facilities at Meta. “It’s like a self-cocoon.”
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
Recognizing that a hybrid work environment would create new problems around noise, Meta has been prototyping new solutions that would allow someone to say, take a zoom call at their desk without disturbing your colleagues. They considered adding more ‘phone booths’ but a building code requiring separate sprinklers for each one sent them back to the drawing board.
The current design iteration, is a felt-like semi-flexible screen that can be wrapped around an existing desk for both visual and sound privacy. Testing showed these units could reduce noise by 20db. Their engineers took to the new idea and quickly staked their claim on spaces they could call their own by personalizing them with items they brought from home. 
While I feel like I’m having groundhog’s day return to the cubicle experience, Meta sees it as a flexible way to solve two of the biggest complaints around open offices, noise and privacy. They have ordered 7,000 units and plan to make these available in about 10% of spaces.
Educated workers are increasingly migrating away from the country’s most expensive major metros — and have been since before the pandemic.
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
You can’t blame the pandemic for instigating the outbound migration of talent from big cities, but it did accelerate the trend. Data through 2021 shows:
  • The NY metro area’s net loss of college graduates totaled over 100k in 2021 
  • SF lost 25k
  • D.C. lost 15k 
These cities are not alone in the net brain drain. Other high cost areas including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Jose, and Seattle, are in the same boat. Even Boston is losing it’s pull. The large majority have opted for somewhat smaller metro areas such as Phoenix, Austin, and Raleigh N.C. In 2020 and 2021 some opted for mid-sized metros and even rural areas. 


The NYT article points to cost of living as the primary reason white-collar workers are following the outbound trend set by their blue-collar neighbors years ago.


The end result is that if employers expect to hire the best and the brightest, they are going to have to think beyond their downtown office towers.


WE Love our 2023 Sponsors! THANK YOU to our GREAT WE sponsors! Your generous support makes our Community, Programs, and Events possible. You inspire us to maximize member value. 
Kate Lister‘s Summary/Insights:
Would you like to join our illustrious group of sponsors? Download the WE 2023 Sponsor Benefit table for all the details about the benefits or contact David KarpookSusan Spiers, or Pat Turnbull for questions and opportunities.