I’ve spent my career in the startup space, building and scaling companies in Toronto and New York. I still remember when the first WeWork location opened in New York City almost 10 years ago; for the burgeoning NYC tech community, WeWork’s presence signaled the unstoppable rise of startups and entrepreneurs like ourselves. Since then, I’ve watched WeWork grow and expand across the world, always believing in the service and value it offered business leaders. I’ve signed a lot of leases throughout my career, and it’s always been daunting. At high-growth companies, the future is uncertain. It’s hard to know where you’ll be in a year, let alone five or 10.
That’s why I recently joined WeWork to lead our efforts creating products for business owners of medium-size companies, with 11-250 employees—from startups to mature and stable companies. My team’s goal is to help business owners navigate their everyday challenges, with real estate or otherwise.
To start, I figured I’d share a few of the most surprising things I’ve learned since joining WeWork—and what they mean for the medium-size business community:
WeWork serves companies of every type
When I started at WeWork, I was under the impression that all of our members were brand new startups. But I found that more than half of our members are mature-stage businesses.
I was also impressed at how many different industries we serve. WeWork is home to software companies and advertising agencies, but also to lawyers, HR firms, and financial-services companies. Fast-growing companies like Brooklinen and Lyft are using WeWork to house their teams. And 25 percent of our customers are enterprise corporations like Salesforce, Microsoft, UBS, and even the U.S. Air Force.
And it’s not just about coworking
Most people would tell you that WeWork is in the business of coworking, and while that’s true, one of the first things I learned is that the traditional concept of coworking—having a shared desk in a common area—doesn’t apply to the majority of spaces that WeWork leases. The reality is that WeWork offers mostly private office space with access to shared amenities like lounges, conference rooms, and phone booths. For companies looking for even more privacy and their own space, we’ve developed offerings that are completely private floors in WeWork and non-WeWork buildings. Lastly, through initiatives like Powered by We, we partner with companies to leverage our expertise in designing, building, and operating their space on their own lease.
But it is about flexibility
Until recently, real estate was seen as a fixed asset. When looking for space, business owners had to plan five to 10 years in advance, which inevitably posed problems if the company grew faster than you thought or your business changed and required less space than you originally planned for. At WeWork, we’ve found that assigned desks are occupied just 50 percent of the time—which is why we’re reimagining space as a flexible asset that can shrink and expand. WeWork is configured in a way that allows us to literally break down walls and rearrange furniture as your company grows. Each location is also built with common areas that your team can utilize as they need, from conference rooms and lounges, to phone booths and kitchens.
Julija Constantino, head of workplace operations at Pinterest, saw this first-hand at the company’s Holyoke location in Seattle: “WeWork was really flexible when we were at Holyoke. We were experiencing hyper-growth, and we needed more space. WeWork was very creative in finding ways to densify our current layout … [by] adding additional square footage, offering up its own amenities such as conference rooms, and eventually making it private to Pinterest.”
We want our spaces to work for you, not the other way around
At the end of the day, it’s all about our members and making our space work for their businesses. One thing that continues to amaze me is how creative our members are; some have completely personalized their space with furniture, carpets, and wallpaper.
We just launched two products specifically designed for the needs of medium-size-business owners: headquarters by WeWork and WeWork office suites. Both are private headquarters spaces that can be personalized with companies’ branding and unique touches. In addition, we design fully configurable offices, ranging from regional headquarters for expanding businesses to campus environments for Fortune 500 companies.
We also recently launched WeWork Space Services, a one-stop resource for on- and off-market real estate solutions. With WeWork Space Services, we leverage our network to help you quickly find your perfect workspace—whether within or outside WeWork—and offer dedicated, continued support throughout the length of your lease.
And we’re constantly evolving. We analyze data from our 250,000 members across more than 300 global locations to improve our products and develop new ones—all in the name of taking the stress out of real estate and office management so you can focus on running your business.
Learn more about new products we are building for businesses like yours, here.