How WeWork became the largest tenant in Boston

From our first opening in 2014 until now, we’re committed to our community in this vibrant city

WeWork has become the largest office tenant in Boston in just six years, according to data from brokerage JLL. This follows our presence as the largest tenant in several other major cities, including New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and London. 

Our first two buildings in Boston—745 Atlantic Ave and 51 Melcher St—opened in February 2014. Back in 2014, we had a little more than 110,000 rentable square feet (RSF) in Boston. Just six years later, we’ve grown that to 1.6 million RSF of workspace that brings together beautiful design with flexible term lengths and a super-warm, welcoming member experience. 

This success is a reflection of Boston itself. A small city geographically, Boston is an economic powerhouse with an incredibly diverse and well-educated workforce, underscored by access to some of the best research institutions and universities in the world.

WeWork 501 Boylston.

Boston is among the top three cities for venture capital investment in the world, and is home to unicorns such as Wayfair and ezCater. And it’s not just the technology industry that’s thriving here. Boston has strengths across sectors such as healthcare, life sciences, finance, and education.

Today Boston is teeming with forward-thinking business leaders, and this includes the city’s landlords and brokers. Based on my experience, this community in Boston was quick to understand the value that WeWork offers to businesses, and they always came to our conversations pairing deep commitment to their clients with a level of intellectual creativity that you don’t always find in other cities. 

Similarly, Boston has strong, effective political leadership. When I sat down with Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh at the United States Conference of Mayors earlier this year, he talked at length about the city’s diverse makeup as a source of strength: 28 percent of Boston residents are foreign-born, 48 percent are first-generation immigrants (including the mayor himself), and 50 percent are people of color. 

“We talk about closing the achievement gap and income inequality. It’s not just talking about it; it’s making sure that people have jobs in those different fields,” Mayor Walsh said. “It’s being very intentional about creating opportunities, closing opportunity gaps, and making sure that the diversity of the industries—plural—is the makeup of our city.”

Different office offerings for businesses of all sizes

WeWork caters to businesses of all sizes—from one- and two-person teams to large enterprises with thousands of employees. Businesses of different sizes have various needs for their office space. That’s why WeWork provides a range of offerings, from full-floor pre-built spaces to traditional coworking spaces, often all within one building. 

In many situations, we can tailor our offerings to the goals of specific businesses. We built sportswear company Puma an interim headquarters complete with its own showroom. When Liberty Mutual was looking to build a new innovation lab, it partnered with us so that the company could plug into our collaborative and fast-paced culture. And we built a new headquarters for food technology company ezCater that features food-themed decor, a recording studio, and a wellness room. 

Puma’s interim headquarters.

We’ve focused our Boston growth in three main neighborhood clusters: Back Bay, Downtown/Financial District, and the Seaport. I think of these as mini campuses that make it easier for member companies to access resources even beyond what is available in their own building. 

For example, if a team needs a classroom-style conference room that can seat up to 40 people for an off-site or a training session, they’ll have multiple choices within a few blocks. Or if a team outgrows its space, it’s almost certain that we will have one they can grow into—without having to change employees’ commute.

A commitment to Boston

So much of Boston’s strength comes from the city’s diversity, which is why our Community team works hard to host events and programming that appeal to all audiences. In fact, we hosted almost 300 events focused on black and Latinx professionals and entrepreneurs in our Boston buildings last year.

WeWork 33 Arch Street.

We also work hard to ensure that, at all levels, our staff reflects the racial makeup of the city we serve. Specifically we wanted to bring more diversity to our manager roles, and today four out of 10 managers in our buildings are black or Latinx, up from one out of 10 at the start of 2019. And going beyond the numbers, this team is amazing. I really can’t imagine a team that is as smart, caring, and welcoming as the folks who run our Boston buildings.

We are grateful to Boston for welcoming us, and we are very excited to continue providing the full business community with the infrastructure—space as well as community and connection—for innovation and growth. Six years after opening our first building in Boston, we’re more committed than ever to the city, and we look forward to the future.  

Dave McLaughlin is the general manager for the Atlantic territory at WeWork. He is responsible for overall business performance from Boston to Miami. Since joining WeWork in 2015, McLaughlin has opened and overseen multiple markets in the United States and Canada. Prior to WeWork, McLaughlin was CEO and cofounder of Vsnap, a video messaging startup (acquired by Gainsight). He was also cofounder and vice president of business development at Fig, a mobile payments startup (acquired by PayPal). McLaughlin is an award-winning screenwriter and film director. He is a graduate of Boston College and lives in the Boston area with his wife and their two sons. 

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