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WeWork and the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative Release Study About Major Trends Shaping Urban Work and Life

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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.

“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”

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.

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“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.”

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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.

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