WeWork is rolling out a relaunch of its member app, which is designed to be a connected, consciously engineered platform that makes people happier and more productive at work. In updates over the course of several months, the app will be available on iOS and Android.
Members use the app for reserving desks, booking conference rooms, and registering guests. A team of engineers, designers, and researchers has been working for about a year on the project, which rethinks just about every aspect of the existing system. It had not seen a complete overhaul in more than three years.
“In a way, that gave us a lot of freedom,” says Andy Palmer, WeWork’s vice president of digital product. “We could think about everything about the app holistically.”
Before they could begin, the team had to figure out the scope of the project. Should they update the existing app or start from scratch? Preserve the current design or come up with something completely new? And what features could they add to make it even more valuable to users?
Palmer says the first step was figuring out what members are looking for from the app. When the app was originally developed, the goal was to create a social network for WeWork, but research showed that it wasn’t what members felt they needed most.
“It turns out that people didn’t want just another social network,” says Palmer. “What they were really looking for was a way of solving work-related problems.”
To figure out exactly what these problems were, Palmer and his team interviewed hundreds of members and used machine-learning to examine more than 100,000 posts on the app. Among the findings were that members wanted to know about events happening in their building, connect with people in their community, and get advice from experts in their field. They still needed to do things like reserve conference rooms, but they wanted a simpler process.
To accomplish all of this, Palmer’s team decided to rebuild the app from the ground up—which meant a lot of time constructing the platform. “One of the hardest decisions we made was to slow down before we started up,” he says.
Designers gave the app a streamlined look. “Visually, we wanted it to feel very different,” says Palmer. “We wanted people to be excited when they open up the app to book a room.”
Palmer says those who have seen the app are thrilled with how it looks, but also with the improved functionality. They can now scroll through available rooms and choose one with a single tap.
“We found during our research that about 40 percent of members booking rooms want one immediately, and 80 percent want one for that day,” he says. “The trick is that the current app was not built to handle that effectively. So we made the process as easy as possible.”
To help members know what is going on in their building, the app team moved notifications about upcoming events to the top of each user’s home screen. And users will be able to get special push notifications about events that are of specific interest to them. For example, a programmer would be notified about a networking event for tech professionals.
The new app will connect members with questions about running their businesses with others who have relevant experience and make it easier for members who want to advertise their services to reach customers.
This is great news for members like Jen Carmody, a member at Miami’s WeWork Brickell City Centre. The consultant, who specializes in helping entrepreneurs improve their language skills,
says she has reached 100 percent of her clients through the WeWork app.
“One of my clients is a commercial real estate agent, and I went with her last week to close a multimillion-dollar sale,” says Carmody. “I reached her, and all the rest of my business clients, through the app.”
Palmer believes that Carmody and other members will be pleased with the changes to the app.
“Members like her will have a much better system for reaching other members who need their services,” he says. “And those who want to get together with other members will also be happy. It will mean more people at events, more people finding help for their problems, and more ways to connect.”