WeWork and the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative release study about major trends shaping urban work and life

  • Global survey of 30,000 people across 50 cities and 18 countries reveals urban workforces worldwide are optimistic about local economies and communities, but concerned about housing availability, infrastructure, and walkability
  • Over one-third of respondents say they are considering moving in the next two years 

Today, the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative and WeWork released the findings from their Future of Work and Cities Survey, a global research project designed to better understand the major trends shaping the 21st century, including urbanization, automation, and climate change, through the lens of people in cities who are experiencing them. While people in almost every city described their city as a thriving center of creativity, community, and family, one in three respondents say they are considering moving in the next two years.

The survey polled over 30,000 full- and part-time workers across 50 cities and 18 countries, including 7,500 respondents who are WeWork members. Despite expressing strong optimism about local economies, especially compared to their national outlook, respondents reported being frustrated by challenges like unaffordable housing, limited walkability, and lack of quality infrastructure.

“By virtue of the millions of people that live in cities, the future of work is, in large part, driven by the future of cities,” said Alastair Fitzpayne, the executive director of the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative. “This survey sheds light on the opportunities and challenges that cities across the U.S. and the world are facing today and into the future. Policymakers and business leaders should take note: There is work to be done to continue to make cities a place for all people to work and live. If these concerns are not met, the people who make up your city might decide to go live somewhere else.”

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • People feel more optimistic about their city’s economy than their national economy: Less than half of respondents say they are optimistic about the national economy over the next two years, while 64 percent say they are optimistic about their city’s local economy.
  • Major urban areas are at risk of losing their current residents and talent: Over one-third of respondents in cities surveyed are considering moving in the next two years. In some cities, like those in the Bay Area, Washington, D.C., and São Paulo, nearly half of respondents say they are considering moving.
  • Support is strong and widespread for climate action plans in cities: 70 percent of all respondents agree that their city should develop a plan and strategy to use 100 percent clean energy and be carbon neutral by 2030.
  • While most businesses are planning for automation, most workers are not: More than half of business decision-makers say that changes from automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will change the way they hire workers in the next five years, but less than one-third of workers believe their jobs will be replaced by automation. To address the changing nature of work, business decision-makers strongly support providing workers with resources for upskilling and reskilling and transitioning to new careers.
  • People want more than just a paycheck from their jobs: Respondents across income, region, and role identify work-life balance as the most important feature they want from the companies they work for, above pay and benefits.
  • WeWork members score their city higher on innovation than non-WeWork members: In cities where WeWork members and the general workforce were surveyed, WeWork members rate their city’s innovation ecosystem at least one score higher than non-WeWork members.

For more information and additional survey results, please visit futureofwork.wework.com.


Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative

Erin McAlister, erin.mcalister@aspeninstitute.org


Julia Sullivan, julia.sullivan3@wework.com / press@wework.com

About the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative

The Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative is a nonpartisan effort to identify concrete ways to address the challenges American workers and businesses face due to the changing nature of work in the 21st century. Established in 2015, the Initiative is driven by the leadership of Honorary Co-Chairs Senator Mark R. Warner and Purdue University President and former Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels, and Co-Chairs John Bridgeland and Bruce Reed. Executive Director Alastair Fitzpayne leads an Aspen Institute staff, based in Washington, D.C. To learn more, visit aspeninstitute.org/futureofwork.

About WeWork

WeWork provides members around the world with space, community, and services through both physical and virtual offerings. Its mission is to create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living. WeWork has 625 locations in over 127 cities and 33 countries. Our 609,000 memberships represent global enterprises across multiple industries. We are committed to providing our members around the world with a better day at work for less.