How Microsoft makes its sales staff happier with WeWork

Microsoft General Manager Matt Donovan had a challenge: All of the tech giant’s New York City-based sales team worked from its headquarters in Times Square. That made it difficult and time consuming for them to get to customers scattered around the region.

The solution was a partner they were collaborating with on several other projects: WeWork. After all, the company that customizes work spaces for companies of all sizes already had dozens of offices around the city.

And WeWork was a good fit for the company culture as well.

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“When we started working with WeWork, we looked at the new experience that they’ve created here,” he says. “We looked at it and thought, ‘Wow, that could be great for some of our teams. We need to get them in here.’”

So Donovan arranged to give 300 staffers—about 70 percent of its New York sales staff—access to all of WeWork’s New York offices. After a few months, he surveyed the team to see how it was going.

The result? About 84 percent of those surveyed believe access to WeWork makes them more productive during their workday, and 74 percent say it gives them better access to their customers. Well over 90 percent were satisfied with the locations they visited.

“There is a lot of early evidence, and it’s only been a few months, to suggest this is a very positive experience,” says Donovan. 

Donovan says that “the retention of great people” is something that Microsoft has always prioritized.

“We want to grow our people, and give them a chance to work on problems that have impact and change the world,” he says. “I think solutions like this are another way to keep our best people.”

When Donovan announced the plan in 2016, he said the company wanted to accomplish three things:

  • Cut down on commute times to and from work and time spent traveling between meetings.
  • Enable employees to engage with a creative, collaborative community.
  • Measure the impact on performance, productivity, and employee satisfaction.

He said the plan accomplished all three goals.

“When someone on our sales team is down at the bottom of Manhattan meeting with someone in the finance sector, then they can just use WeWork Charging Bull,” he says. “In that space, they can have a meeting, have a coffee, relax, or whatever. Then when they have to meet with a customer uptown, they can switch to one of the other WeWork locations.”

Donovan says the decision to move its sales team is the result of a longer collaboration with WeWork. A year ago, the corporation began offering Office 365 to members of WeWork.

“When we started working with WeWork, we looked at the new experience that they’ve created here,” he says. “We looked at it and thought, ‘Wow, that could be great for some of our teams. We need to get them in here.’”

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