As director of broker relations at WeWork, I meet with a lot of commercial real estate companies. Over the past year and a half, it’s been my job to arm firms and their brokers with the information they need to sell WeWork to their clients. I used to hand out well-designed flyers with building information—answering questions about amenities, location, and modes of transportation. I used to talk about WeWork’s beautifully designed spaces compared with the competition, and educate brokers on how to sell flexible office pricing against direct market rates.
But as the world has changed over the past few months, brokers’ questions have changed as well. Today, brokers want to know about the future of flexible workspace and WeWork’s positioning in the market. They want to know what we’re doing differently to keep their clients safe. And they want to know how, exactly, we’re future-proofing our real estate deals to fit their clients’ business needs now and in the still-uncertain future of the workplace.
In this article, I’m sharing some of the tough questions I get about WeWork—along with my candid answers.
What’s the future for WeWork?
It’s a fair question, especially after the sweeping leadership and strategic changes we made over the past 10 months.
WeWork was proud to welcome Sandeep Mathrani as our new chief executive officer in February. An experienced real estate executive with a proven track record in turning around businesses and leading them to become multibillion-dollar success stories, Mathrani has already helped strategically shift WeWork’s course.
Under new executive leadership, demand continues to increase and enterprise memberships continue to rise. We hit a record milestone in the first quarter of 2020 with our first $1 billion revenue quarter. Second-quarter reports have not been disclosed yet, but we’re still sitting ahead of our 2020 budget—even with the pandemic. On top of this, we reduced our cash burn by 60 percent in the first quarter of 2020 from the fourth quarter of 2019. This solid financial footing has allowed us to stay strong during these uncertain times.
What are you doing to keep my clients safe when they return to the workplace?
Giving members more space to professionally distance is key—a strategy known as de-densification. And WeWork has the inventory to support your clients’ safe, spaced-out return to work.
We currently have 828 locations across 149 of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, making it easy for companies big and small to expand their footprints to meet distancing requirements and evolving workplace priorities. WeWork’s 2019 real estate strategy also expanded our portfolio into more suburban areas, providing businesses the option to offer locations closer to more employees’ homes.
As a safety baseline, WeWork has been laser-focused on adapting all of our locations to meet higher standards of cleanliness and sanitization. We’ve also consulted with globally recognized authorities on state-of-the-art air-filtration systems to improve air quality and fresh air intake. WeWork maintains COVID-19 safety standards across all of our offices—and it comes at no extra cost to your clients. This is a true differentiator between WeWork and other office spaces, as the operating expense for your clients to self-maintain these new standards would be significant.
What else are you doing differently that my clients might be interested in?
Beyond increased sanitization efforts and offering inventory where and when your clients need it, we also provide a service to help enterprise members understand their own utilization. We’re able to help enterprise clients evaluate daily unique key card swipes against the density of each of our spaces—so that your clients can track how their employees are actually using the space. Maybe their office space is being used at 60 percent capacity instead of 100 percent, or vice versa. Knowing how employees use their space may help inform their de-densification strategy going forward. Data is key, and we’re leveraging it in new ways to arm our clients with tools to make informed decisions.
Why should my clients care about—and pay for—flexibility?
With the current state of uncertainty, it’s harder than ever to predict what the workplace will need in the future, so being locked into lengthy deals is a risk. The idea of signing a long-term lease that requires a huge capital outlay and geographic commitment simply isn’t appealing.
WeWork’s ability to structure flexible deal terms means that your clients can ramp into the commitment length that’s right for whatever their business needs are today. That can change over time as they evolve. Regardless of term length, brokers still earn commission on all deals. WeWork is able to move fast. Our well-designed, highly customizable spaces are turnkey, meaning your clients can sign a deal on Friday and be moved in on Monday.
With WeWork, our members can grow with us as their business does, whether that’s within a building, in a particular city, or around the world.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can creatively structure deals, layouts, and locations to serve your clients, please visit brokers at wework.com/brokers, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with us today.
Shannon Price is WeWork’s tri-state director of broker relations. She joined the company in early 2019 and is focused on enabling brokers with the tools they need to effectively sell WeWork to their clients. Price brings over 10 years of experience in commercial real estate from some of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the U.S.