It’s been nearly 10 years since the first WeWork location opened in New York City. Between then and now, WeWork has grown and expanded across the world, into more than 425 locations in 100 cities.
I’ve been a CEO, a COO, and a company founder, and I’m intimately familiar with the myriad challenges company leaders face every day. That’s one of the reasons I joined WeWork—to help business leaders navigate those issues, 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 business community:
WeWork serves companies of all sizes
When I started at WeWork, I was under the impression that all of our members were small startups. But I soon found that more than half of our members are mature-stage businesses.
One-third of the Fortune 500 have teams or offices at WeWork locations around the world. And more than 40 percent of our customers are enterprise corporations like Salesforce, Microsoft, UBS, Pinterest, Standard Chartered, and RBC.
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 TripActions are using WeWork to house their teams.
It’s not just about coworking
A lot of people might 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 offer completely private floors in WeWork and non-WeWork buildings. In addition, we partner with companies to design, build, and operate spaces that are uniquely tailored to their business, company culture, and people.
But it is about agility
Until recently, real estate has been a fixed asset. When looking for space, business owners had to sign long-term leases—five to 10 years, or more. This not only tied up precious capital that you could be reinvesting into your business or using to hire talent. It also inevitably became a problem when your company grew faster than expected—or the business changed and required less space than you originally planned for.
At WeWork, we offer agility without compromise. We make real estate liquid, which allows you to optimize space to meet your business goals. WeWork offers shorter service agreements, so you only pay for the space you need—and can scale up or down as needed. With our global inventory, we can help you expand into new markets. If you need office space in a tight market, we can source it for you.
GE Healthcare Korea recently leveraged WeWork to optimize their real estate portfolio in Seoul. With WeWork, they built out a new headquarters with open seating and various collaboration nooks to encourage cross-functional teamwork. Plus, they gave employees access to every WeWork location in Seoul. GE Healthcare Korea employees can now choose when and where they work, giving them more flexibility and cutting down their commutes.
“We achieved a cost-savings project while achieving cultural transformation to collaborate better together,” says Francis Van Parys, president and CEO of GE Healthcare Korea.
We want our spaces to work for you, not the other way around
At the end of the day, our goal is to make our spaces work for your businesses. That’s why we’re constantly evolving. We analyze data from our 450,000-plus members to constantly improve our spaces—all in the name of taking the stress out of real estate and office management so you can focus on running your business.
WeWork offers companies of all sizes space solutions that help solve their biggest business challenges.
Michael Hershfield is the vice president of product at WeWork. He’s spent more than a decade in the startup space in New York and Toronto while serving as COO of Nucleus Intercom, COO of Kitchensurfing, vice president of business and corporate development of Sailthru, and CEO and cofounder of LiveStub. He is also an angel investor, venture advisor at Silas Capital, and a board member at Israel Policy Forum.
Growing from a few to a few hundred employees takes strategy and the right space.