With colleges and universities having to pivot to remote learning or hybrid approaches because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many institutions have been looking for solutions to expand their campuses and accommodate students. WeWork for Education is addressing this need by helping universities provide their students with a space to work that prioritises safety, and in some cases, with satellite campuses.
‘WeWork is uniquely positioned to help these institutions adapt, thanks to our agility, flexibility and community,’ says Ivan Aguirre, director of product strategy at WeWork and education project lead on how to transform WeWork spaces for higher education. By providing different spaces where students can huddle, collaborate or do heads-down work, Aguirre says, WeWork for Education is able to re-create a campus-like experience.
WeWork is already supporting major universities. New York University leased WeWork space this autumn near its Shanghai campus to serve more than 3,000 Chinese undergraduate and graduate students. The partnership converted offices into classrooms, lecture halls and study rooms to extend its campus network.
The University of Rochester is also working with WeWork to provide work and study areas to undergraduate students who are living in China and studying remotely. Through WeWork All Access, students can go to nearly 90 WeWork locations throughout the country.
Individual students and professors can benefit from their school partnering with WeWork All Access, even without a formal satellite campus. For instance, a student or faculty member who can’t return to their campus location because of COVID-19 restrictions can gain access to a more conducive workspace to teach or take part in virtual classes, conduct research (with reliable high-speed Wi-Fi) and work on projects that require professional-grade printers.
‘Students today are asked to do a multitude of activities, and being in the right space can improve their performance and success,’ says Aguirre. ‘A student’s worst enemy can be constant distractions from the outside world.’ WeWork locations are designed to help members stay focused.
WeWork’s varied spaces, from quiet nooks and meeting rooms to hot desks and focus rooms designed for productivity, cater to student and faculty needs alike. Here’s a look at some WeWork locations around the world that can help universities and students maintain their educational momentum, even when they can’t be on campus.
This space in WeWork 6001 Cass Ave in Detroit definitely has an academic feel to it – perfect for displaced college students. ‘Open, well-lit and ventilated spaces promote well-being, while the appropriate furniture configurations, which take into consideration ergonomics and functionality, can help students remain engaged for longer periods of time,’ says Aguirre.
Heads down, pencils down
Minimalism makes for less distractions. Take this room located at WeWork One South Dearborn in Chicago. It’s expertly designed for exam taking or serious study sessions. ‘Our spaces incorporate elements that are functional and take into consideration productivity, such as increased acoustics, neutral colour palettes, natural materials and ergonomic furniture,’ says Aguirre. ‘These elements help to reduce the number of distractions and influence the member experience in a positive way.’
University supply – stacked
As members of WeWork 33 Bloor St in Toronto can attest, knowing you have access to business-class printers, paper shredders and office supplies such as staplers, paper, rubber bands, pens and pencils can help you work more efficiently. Sorry, students – that means no more ‘I ran out of ink’ excuses!
Study al fresco
Outdoor spaces, like this terrace at WeWork 1460 Broadway in New York, offer a fresh-air retreat after intense lectures. Grab a seat up here for a quick cramming session or to stay connected to Wi-Fi while catching some rays.
Universities can make a big impression by giving presentations in an actual off-campus event space, like the one pictured here in WeWork Aviation House in London. With staggered seating, bright lights and a large projection screen wall, everyone can soak up some knowledge in a relaxed atmosphere.
With whiteboards as far as the eye can see, this room in WeWork 92 Av. des Champs-Elysees in Paris is ideal for group projects and class collaborations. With ample space to flesh out ideas, and plenty of natural light, there’s lots of energy and inspiration to be found here.
Booth or hot desk or both? Your choice. The WeWork Hareza Ikebukuro in Tokyo is an example of the many seating options available to accommodate every type of learning style. ‘Some people learn best through collaboration, some through independent study, while others require one-on-one interactions,’ says Aguirre. ‘All of these can be accommodated within our WeWork locations through low-touch interventions.’
Whether it’s a seminar class or a course that includes peer critiques, having a roomy conference area set up for roundtable discussions ensures that everyone can see one another. That’s the case with this conference room in WeWork 2 Minster Court in London.
In the age of video conferencing, phone boxes, like this one in WeWork Galleria Office Tower I in Houston, allow for distraction-free one-on-one Zoom calls. Faculty members will especially appreciate the boxes’ privacy in order to confer online with colleagues or provide virtual office hours.
Beat exam anxiety
Studying can be overwhelming, which is why most colleges and universities offer respite spaces for stressed-out students. Likewise, wellness rooms are a regular feature at spaces like this one at WeWork 199 Water St in New York. Sink into the soft seating, close the lights and the doors, and meditate away your dissertation blues.
Coffee and college students go hand in hand. Luckily, any undergraduates who utilise a WeWork space can rely on unlimited java jolts to recover from all-nighters. Pictured here is WeWork Namba Sky O in Osaka where members can grab a cup between classes.
Sometimes it’s nice to just escape with a good book. Literature lovers will enjoy comfortable and airy communal spaces like this one in WeWork Golden Eagle He Xi Tower A in Nanjing, China. A moment of serenity and calm can help you recharge.
WeWork for Education is poised to meet the needs of universities and students alike by staying true to its philosophies of flexible workspaces, ergonomics, top-notch technology and thoughtful amenities. ‘By understanding the different needs and use cases of education institutions,’ says Aguirre, ‘we are able to provide thoughtful solutions that leverage our built spaces and uniquely curated furniture solutions.’
Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer who covers work, personal finance and higher education. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including US News & World Report, and on Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter.