The Wework Jug­ger­naut

Azure - - WORKSPACE -

WHEN WEWORK EN­TERED the cowork­ing sphere in 2010, the con­cept of free­lancers and en­trepreneurs shar­ing space wasn’t en­tirely new. What made the com­pany stand out was its com­mit­ment to “cool” de­sign. More than just desks and chairs, Wework of­fered clients at­trac­tive places to lounge and so­cial­ize, and that trans­lated into en­er­getic workspace com­mu­ni­ties – the kind of vibe most start-ups thrive on. “There’s a power to be­ing around like-minded in­di­vid­u­als who are pur­su­ing their life’s work and pas­sion,” says Fed­erico Ne­gro, global head of de­sign at Wework’s New York of­fice. “And our spa­ces are meant to nour­ish that kind of pro­duc­tiv­ity, progress and in­spi­ra­tion.”

Seven years later, the com­pany has re­fined its meth­ods and brand­ing into a fail-safe for­mula. On­line, the Wework com­mu­nity con­nects via an app. Off­line, they gather in shared kitchen and din­ing ar­eas, where there is a con­stant hive of ac­tiv­ity. Mem­bers re­fill their cof­fees in Do What You Love Wework mugs, use the com­mu­nal prin­ters, play at the foos­ball table or en­joy a (free) beer. The spa­ces are open and wel­com­ing, with an eclec­tic as­sort­ment of fur­nish­ings and art pieces that are, for the most part, sourced lo­cally or com­mis­sioned. No two Wework lo­ca­tions are the same, but they do share the ca­sual aes­thetic of a hip­ster café. “The goal should be to of­fer peo­ple ways to in­ter­act with a space but not nec­es­sar­ily dic­tate how to use it,” says Ne­gro.

For that rea­son, com­mu­nal din­ing ta­bles dou­ble as flex­i­ble work desks, and hot-deskers need­ing to con­cen­trate can find refuge in up­hol­stered booths set off to one side. The clean­li­ness and ease of just be­ing able to plug-in any­where is another es­sen­tial fea­ture that has turned Wework into the largest com­pany of its kind.

By early next year, Wework will have more than 200 lo­ca­tions in op­er­a­tion around the globe, sup­ply­ing work en­vi­ron­ments for an es­ti­mated

1.2 mil­lion peo­ple who have used a shared space at some point in their ca­reers. In the grow­ing “gig econ­omy,” flex­i­ble of­fices like these are likely to out­grow per­ma­nent of­fices, but that’s another story. ↑ Wework Padding­ton in Lon­don is within walk­ing dis­tance to the Tube. It fea­tures ameni­ties like a well­ness room and ter­races.

→ A com­mon space in Wework Metropool in Am­s­ter­dam is decked out with wool-cov­ered lounge fur­ni­ture and bold art­work.

↓ Along with a num­ber of fam­ily-style ta­bles, Lon­don’s South Bank lo­ca­tion in­cludes show­ers and bike stor­age.

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