Craft beer flows from the tap at the bar. The tap-tap-tapping sound of fingers on a laptop ricochet around the room -- or is that the bouncing of a ping pong ball? The freelance writer works alongside the computer junkie, the fintech entrepreneur besides the aspiring nonprofit founder. A steady hum of activity and conversation fills the space, which is occupied mostly by millennials. But despite its young demographic, this isn't the student union at a local college. It's an office--at least if you work in a WeWork building.
Co-Founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in 2010, the co-working company WeWork is redefining the nature of the workplace. Named for the "We Generation," which inspired the company's mission of fostering close-knit communities and positive work cultures, WeWork has attracted numerous small businesses, freelancers, startups, and nonprofits. And it has no signs of slowing down.
WeWork is specifically designed to foster an environment that will capitalize on the strengths, creativity, and connections of the entrepreneurs and innovators who work there. Lounge areas with couches and coffee tables lend an air of informality and enable workers from different companies to interact more efficiently. Networking events and social gatherings hosted by WeWork staff encourage collaboration and break down barriers between industries. And, of course, there's the free beer on tap, ping pong tables, and video game consoles for some friendly competition. These synergies, as well as the company's promise to "humanize" work, have led to a loyal following, especially among gig workers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.
But these aren't the only ones taking advantage of all WeWork has to offer. Corporations like Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, General Electric, IBM, and Bank of America are rapidly flocking to WeWork, either as a temporary space, as an alternative to outfitting a new office, or for its proximity to current clients. These "enterprise clients" comprise approximately 25 percent of WeWork members, and this number is likely to increase. Notably, while many WeWork tenants are short-term -- the entire rental model is month-to-month -- this group of enterprise clients is expected to rent space for more extended periods of time.
Designed with flexibility in mind, WeWork offers a variety of plans to cater to different types of companies and workers. Remote workers who might require office space a few times per month can rent a "hot desk," which is a guaranteed workspace in a common area at one WeWork location. Those who need space more regularly, like small businesses or enterprise clients, can opt for a "dedicated desk" or a "private office." With all plans, WeWork offers access to WeWork events, conference spaces, workstations to host meetings, and all the coffee, fruit water, and craft beer you can drink.
Overall, WeWork's co-working spaces have been highly successful so far. WeWork has expanded to more than 200 locations in 20 different countries, and tcompany is the sixth-most-valuable start-up in the world, with a value of $20 billion.
So what's next on the horizon?
WeWork is now expanding its model into living spaces, with its first WeLive co-living apartments opening in New York City and Arlington, Virginia. Like the WeWork buildings, each WeLive building features private and communal spaces. Family kitchens, laundry, and living rooms encourage social interaction, while the individual living spaces, which range from studios to three bedroom apartments, are fully furnished and include their kitchen and bathroom. With the pilot programs doing well and reaching capacity, the company has further plans for WeLive and expects to open more buildings.
In the meantime, WeWork is setting new standards for cross-collaboration, flexibility, office perks--and just plain ol' fun. Staff meeting in a circle of bean bag chairs? Yes, please!