In the beginning, there were plain vanilla workspaces. Clusters of cookie-cutter cubicles then slowly gave way to open offices that were designed to encourage collaboration, creativity and productivity. These too, however, had a one-size-fits all approach: the ubiquitous beanbags, foosball table, and cappuccino maker notwithstanding. After that came the co-working space, a welcome offshoot of the sharing economy, and gave companies the same facilities and ambience without having to acquire them outright.
Global leader WeWork, however, takes shared work-spaces to whole new level, beyond just spaces to a collaborative community and the services needed to build a life and not just earn a living.
WeWork was founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey. Today, Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO, and Miguel is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, directing all architecture, design and construction activities. The company has a presence in 16 countries and 100+ locations across the world, from 22 cities in the US to startup hotspots including China, Germany and Israel. As WeWork gets ready to take on the Indian market by launching spaces in Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi/NCR, established players in the space need to get their game face on. After all, this is the company that houses not only some of the world’s most innovative startups but also corporate giants like IBM and Microsoft.
WeWork was founded on the idea that traditional spaces can transform into work environments that are empowering and collaborative while being responsive to the professional needs of today’s mobile, creative and entrepreneurial workforce. Having successfully created such spaces and a 100,000-strong member network around the globe, WeWork now brings that experience to India. “When entrepreneurs are placed in the same space, they can get to know one another and collaborate on complementary startups,” says Karan Virwani, Director, WeWork India.
According to the Global Coworking Survey, by the end of the year, nearly 1.2 million people worldwide will have worked in a coworking space. In a study conducted by renowned real estate consultancy JLL, the coworking industry in India is expected to receive $400 million in investments by 2018. The industry is also expected to grow by 40-50 percent in 2017. India’s startup ecosystem and sharing economy are also growing rapidly. Initiatives like the Government of India’s Make in India campaign have been adding further impetus to this growth. Nevertheless, this massive growth and positive environment for entrepreneurship is challenged by the lack of suitable space and infrastructure for entrepreneurs who are just starting out and professionals who work independently.
When you’re starting up, you need sounding boards to have your ideas validated, you need mentors who will point you in the right direction, you need easy access to potential business opportunities, and you need to hear stories that inspire you when you’re down in the dumps. And that happens best when you are surrounded by such folk or can interact with them on a regular basis. As a global player with a successful and proven model, We Work brings the best international standards and practices to India’s flourishing startup ecosystem and is building an Indian team that understands ground realities, requirements, and culture. “While we’re a global company, we operate with a local playbook – wherever we enter a new market, we work together with key partners and experts to help create the WeWork experience in that region,” adds Virwani.
WeWork believes that for entrepreneurs, their workplace is where their dreams will come true; it is their universe and it has to provide for every little need and requirement in a way that allows them to do their best work here. Which means they need more than just a great workspace.
Finding and setting up an office can be a daunting task, what with landlords, contractors, and lawyers to deal with. WeWork makes this smoother, providing the right environment in terms of logistics, infrastructure and technology, so that entrepreneurs can focus on what’s best for their business. The company’s core belief is that we are ‘better together’, and with this in mind, the focus is on building community and services. WeWork measures its success not in terms of numbers but personal fulfilment.
Gorgeous workspaces that promote collaboration: One look at any WeWork space will tell you that the physical spaces are not just beautiful and functional – thanks to their proprietary design expertise – but also collaborative. It can also accommodate teams of any size. Which means members can grow within WeWork. Explains Virwani, “We believe that how and why people work is changing: more people want to work on the projects they’re passionate about in an energetic environment where others are also working hard to bring to life their business ideas. We were one of the first companies to recognise this shift.”
Access to the global member network: Beyond just physical spaces that epitomise class, comfort and collaboration, being a part of WeWork gives members the advantage of interacting with 100,000 other members globally – both in person and online. Imagine having access to a potential corporate client right next door within the same workspace. Imagine finding folks whom you could collaborate and create a win-win scenario. Or someone who can test a theory for you. Or someone who’s such a polar opposite of you that they’re great to hang out with. There’s also an app that lets members connect and work virtually with other members all over the world. And the collaboration doesn’t stop there.
Access to events, networking and business opportunities: WeWork holds informal and formal events all the time, which means that members get the advantage of accessing business opportunities, finding mentors, discovering talent and like-minded individuals who understand what you’ve set out to do. It’s an environment that is built to help members thrive.
Access to a wide spectrum support services: All this while not having to bother about quite a few support services that can otherwise be soul-sapping – access to health care, payment processing, IT support, payroll and legal services – that WeWork takes care of for its members. This lets them spend time on what’s really important and eliminates hassles that eat into their creativity and productivity.
Ultimately, the founders of WeWork have one vision – to build a platform for the people who are trying to bring something new to the world, and looking to find support to follow their passion.