Take a moment to imagine what a normal day of work looks like. You can’t anymore, can you?
Over the past decade, the way that people work have begun to change. When companies used to work in silos, obsessively guarding their secrets from everyone, now there is an openness to collaborate. When employees only used to interact with their colleagues (save for a few external facing ones), now people are beginning to work with others outside of the companies they are in.
Better technology have made a myriad of things borderless and, yes, that includes work processes. What the world is experiencing now is a shift in the way businesses work, brought about by technology, innovation, and the continuously changing workforce.
And it is this shift that WeWork has had a hand in.
A platform for creators of all sizes
WeWork provides shared workspaces and services for entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses, and large enterprises.
It sounds pretty simple and straightforward but digging deeper into it would illuminate how WeWork has steadily innovated alongside the changing workforce. According to Turochas “T” Fuad, WeWork’s Managing Director for Southeast Asia, “WeWork is platform for creators. We give them space, community, and services. Not only just a physical space but also virtual services. Our technology allows them to collaborate and find one another through our platform.”
With over 248,000 members worldwide, being a part of WeWork’s community means having access to that massive global network through their online platform that allows each member to find and collaborate with each other.
As an illustration, this means that a small company who needs assistance from a digital marketing expert could simply post the need on the platform and people from all WeWork locations can answer it.
“It will address all those needs that our members do have. So it’s not just someone sitting two feet across from you but someone potentially sitting miles and miles away from you,” Fuad said.
A necessity to shift
This concept of collaborative workspaces, while largely stemming from freelancers and startup communities, has bled into traditional businesses and enterprises. Largely out of necessity, if you look at where the workforce is heading.
Millennials, who in the next few years will be making up over 50 per cent of the workforce, is leading this shift; they are not just looking for a job. They are looking for friends, for excitement, for variety, and for something that creates an impact. If enterprises want to attract, hire, and retain them, they would have to adopt some of the practices that young companies have now.
According to Fuad, enterprises need “to be a lot more collaborative and to really have a sense of community that directly links to greater innovation in terms of what they do today.”
Which is why WeWork is now starting to look into enterprises. They offer enterprises the basic services of space, customisation of said space, longer term leases, and the flexibility to grow or shrink in size as they need to.
They have also started to offer a new product to enterprises that allows them to have the WeWork experience in their own office, as some companies do own their space and just cannot move out.
“We bring WeWork to them,” Fuad said. “We would go to the real estate or space that is owned by the enterprise, we design, we build, we operate, and programme the particular location for them.”
With hundreds of in-house employees dedicated to architecture, structure, and design, WeWork has built a scalable process and model that allows them to build much faster at least cost, but without sacrificing the quality that they care about.
Of course, this includes giving employees of these enterprises access to WeWork’s global community, once again stressing the importance of collaborating with different people no matter what size company you are.
“It is important. It is the way of the future. It is moving from a “me” sort of lifestyle to more of a “be”, having multiple different people representing different industries and different stages in life in terms of career coming together to really just build a bigger platform.”
A natural progression
This expansion to serving large enterprises is a natural progression from the WeWork’s beginnings. When the company started in New York in 2010, they initially served a group of freelancer who don’t have a workspace.
“Usually you find them at Starbucks or at their homes – working in silos, not really collaborating or meeting people of the same mindset or vision. We provide them with space for the very basic things. All the amenities for all these people to collaborate and really just sit together in same location,” Fuad said.
From there, WeWork has expanded to include companies of different sizes – the same kind of companies that freelancers support – to give their members more opportunities to mingle, find work opportunities, and tap skills and projects that they need.
Connecting the dots, Fuad called it. But at the same time, by allowing these different people to collaborate, a macro shift in the way they work is happening. The young ones are introducing new technology to the large enterprises, while the enterprises bring with them the experience and credibility that time and success has given them.
“It’s a good blend,” Fuad said. “ It allows large companies to be nimble and to be inspired by how small companies work. It allows the freelancers and small companies to really be motivated to one day be as big as these enterprises.”
Localities and locations
Though one may think that all WeWork locations are of the same mold, but they are not. WeWork locations, while designed to have the same look and feel, are built to blend to the local feel. They take into account the colours and the look of the neighborhood and they replicate it to have continuity from the neighborhood to their space. No two WeWork locations look alike, yet all have that distinct flavour and feel of a WeWork community.
And location is important to WeWork. “We do believe that in the future of work, life is important -where you eat, where you hangout, where you sort of have drinks after work, where you go to the gym, how you get from one place to another – those are very important elements to what we chose as location,” Fuad said.
Looking at WeWork locations, they are all mostly in key areas of the city where members have access to food, convenient transportation, as well as easily meet potential partners and clients.
For example, in Singapore, their location in 71 Robinson Road is set to officially open. This is to be followed by 22 Cross Street and 60 Anson Road, which are all core locations in the central part of Singapore.
Currently, WeWork has over 253 locations ins 74 cities across 22 countries and those numbers are growing.
“A lot of companies are definitely seeing that the collaborative and innovative space is really helping them improve the morale of their workforce, allowing their employees to work with and be inspired by different companies,” Fuad said.
At the core of it, WeWork is more than just a physical space. While that is important, in the end it is really the global community that they have created that companies should note.
“We found out that 70 per cent of our members collaborate with each other across these international locations, which is a very high number, Fuad said. “It shows us that these people really collaborate with one another and not just enjoying the spaces that we provide and not just innovating new things but really coming together and forming communities.”
The days of working in silos are being replaced with a new a normal, and it looks a lot like WeWork’s community.
Disclosure: This article is produced by the e27 content marketing team, sponsored by WeWork