Cities are more than a collection of people and buildings; they house the innovation and resiliency needed to sustain nations—they are the factories producing the future. But cities change as their people change and surveys continuously monitor those changes. One of those comes from the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative and WeWork, the Future of Work and Cities Survey.
The survey polled over 30,000 full-time and part-time workers across 50 cities in 18 countries, including 7,500 respondents who are WeWork members. 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.
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. Policymakers and business leaders at all levels should take note: effort needs to be expended 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.
Some results of the latest survey include that less than half of respondents say they are optimistic about the national economy over the next two years, while 64% say they are optimistic about their city’s local economy. About 70% of all respondents agree that their city should develop a plan and strategy to use 100% clean energy and be carbon neutral by 2030. More than one-third of respondents in cities surveyed are considering moving in the next two years. In some cities, like those in the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, D.C., and São Paulo, nearly half of respondents say they are considering moving.
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. 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.
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