“Be human, be kind” is one of WeWork’s core values. And as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in the U.S. and abroad, it’s more important than ever before to treat one another with empathy and concern for safety. WeWork’s community managers are embodying this core value in a variety of ways to welcome back members who are returning to their offices.
From using technology strategically, being creative in thoughtful ways, inspiring a family atmosphere, communicating efficiently, and putting the member experience first, here’s how six WeWork community managers are helping entrepreneurs and business owners return to the office.
Using technology to give members a community experience
For Fiona Bett and Santos Muñoz, community leads at WeWork 575 Fifth in New York City, technology has allowed them to interact with their members through the city’s stringent quarantine. “While we were still working from home, our team made an effort to stay in touch with as many members as possible,” they say.
From emails to phone calls and even happy hours hosted on Zoom, they’ve been working diligently to give their members the quintessential community experience that WeWork’s well known for, even as members have worked from home. “Keeping up our personal and professional relationships with dozens of members over the past few months helps maintain the community feeling even when these members are not physically here,” they say.
By hosting technology-friendly events, the community team at the Manhattan location has been able “to catch up with members who we call friends and also meet new faces.”
Bett and Muñoz are now devising experiences that go beyond the computer screen: They’re looking into hosting safe, socially distanced activities for their members in the coming weeks.
“While our building does not have the outdoor space to host events, we are actively brainstorming events we can host once it is safe and we get the go-ahead,” they say. “In the meantime, we will stick to virtual happy hours and encourage members to participate in events at other locations.”
Being creative to welcome members back safely
For instance, Gatan explained that when the strictest quarantine regulations were in place, her team helped those who couldn’t travel to their typical office locations. When public transportation wasn’t available yet or if members felt unsafe, Gatan’s team had a solution: “We offered them access to a WeWork location in another city if that was closer to them by giving additional credits [which could be used to reserve conference rooms and workspaces],” she says. By doing this, the team welcomed members back to WeWork and prioritized their safety and comfort.
Gatan and her team also helped with remodeling to comply with social distancing best practices. “For members who wanted to ensure that physical distancing measures were implemented in their own private offices, we offered to assist them by working with them to re-layout the space and assigning them Community Service Associates (CSAs) to help move their furniture,” she says.
Making every member feel like part of a family
Juliana Yepes, a community lead at WeWork Km 5 Av. Las Palmas in Medellín, Colombia, has taken extra steps during the pandemic to make members in her building feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves. “In our building, we are a family,” she explains. “We all know each other, and we know what is happening in each of the companies.”
More specifically, Yepes says that as the building’s members started coming back to work, she prepared welcome notes and gave out candy to sweeten their returns. For those who haven’t yet made it to the office, Yepes is trying to put a smile on their faces too. She’s been sending members surprise gifts and checking in with them by calling those having a difficult time with the pandemic.
Yepes embodies WeWork’s community values by treating people with empathy and kindness. “As a community team, we work every day with people more than companies,” she says. “I always try to put myself in the shoes of the person with whom I’m interacting, and offer a solution according to their needs.”
Communicating with members’ safety top of mind
Zarina Sattarova, a community associate at WeWork 175 Varick Street in New York City, has been focusing on communicating effectively and efficiently to equip her members with the latest information concerning the pandemic.
“While we were working from home, we tried to keep the presence of the community team online by using the member network,” she says. She achieved this by posting daily updates about virtual events, and starting discussions and conversations with members to help them feel supported.
And that’s not all: Sattarova has also been sharing with members information that makes them feel safer as they come back to their workspaces. “Before returning to the office, we sent out check-in emails, wrote newsletters containing important information, and gave announcements about procedures concerning the return,” she says.
It’s this care and concern for her building’s members that Sattarova says sets WeWork apart from other coworking spaces around the world. “WeWork is unlike your average office space—we’re a community of creative individuals who are ready to make the world a better place,” she says.
“And especially during these unprecedented times, we strived to hear what was crucial for our members to feel safe, supported, and inspired to create.”
Being more flexible as a team
For Evgeniya Waldner of WeWork Friesenplatz 4 in Cologne, Germany, having an open mind and listening to the members in her building have been key to successfully transitioning back to the office. This, she says, has led to a stronger understanding of how to abate fears and give people individually tailored experiences upon their return.
“Throughout the quarantine, I ensured we had regular catch-ups with our members—both individual ones and as a community—and listened to their concerns,” she explains. “When we could come back to the building, I knew exactly what to expect and made sure everyone felt comfortable.”
Because of the rules and regulations put in place to keep every member safe and secure, Waldner admits the protocols may be confusing at times. To help, she explains how being open-minded is paramount as a community manager.
“I take my time with each one of them to really explain the ‘why’ behind each new regulation, thanking them for adjusting to the new normal and supporting the community,” she says. “As a team, we also adopted a more flexible mindset and found creative ways to offer members social distancing.” This has included opening available offices for members to work safely and helping people book larger conference rooms free of charge.
Sometimes, being flexible can take the form of simply having a conversation with a member and acting on any concerns with kindness. “It’s all about people at WeWork,” Waldner explains. “And it is essential to always be there for the members on a personal level, listening with empathy to their concerns and sincerely trying to help.”
“For me,” she adds, “WeWork is a place free of judgment and full of love.”
Benjamin Snyder is an editor and writer living in New York City. He’s written for Bloomberg, CNBC, Fortune, The New York Times, and other outlets. Snyder holds a degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.