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HOT TOPIC WeWork: Sounds/looks great, but does anyone actually work?

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Anyone here have space at WeWork?

The whole concept feels like Starbucks on steroids where everyone goes to be seen, but no actual work gets done. (At least "deep work.")

When you're playing Foosball and drinking coffee all day in the atrium, are you really doing work?

Just curious what other's experiences have been...

I don't operate well in these "shared workspaces", not to mention the motivational sludge all over the place ("do what you love!")

Interesting article about the concept, including some detail in how it got started. (The founder's backstory, or process!)

How WeWork became the most hyped startup in the world | WIRED UK

 

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jpn

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A company I worked for had their local NYC office in one. I spent a few months at that office at one point.

It worked well for them. Fully functional office. No need to invest in office management or infrastructure. The local office did very well. I saw the common game tables used from time to time. But never anyone from our office.

Everyone in that office was focused on getting shit done. That company had its culture down. And I think that makes all the difference.

Keep in mind that they rented their own private space within WeWork and they were part of an established and rapidly growing company. That office moved 4 times in 2 years within WeWork as they went from 2 to 20.

I think it’s down to the people and the culture. I’ve worked in super corporate settings where everyone was always having coffee and chatting. And super start-uppy with football tables and ping pong where most folks kept their heads down and focused on getting things done and not playing all the time.

Edit: some of the motivational slogan stuff was a bit over the top for me. But just assumed it’s a cultural difference between myself and Americans. The coffee was OK.
 
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Everyone in that office was focused on getting sh*t done.
Thanks! Great to hear a first or second person experience, not just my knee-jerk speculation. ;)
 

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A company I worked for had their local NYC office in one. I spent a few months at that office at one point.

It worked well for them. Fully functional office. No need to invest in office management or infrastructure. The local office did very well. I saw the common game tables used from time to time. But never anyone from our office.

Everyone in that office was focused on getting sh*t done. That company had its culture down. And I think that makes all the difference.

Keep in mind that they rented their own private space within WeWork and they were part of an established and rapidly growing company. That office moved 4 times in 2 years within WeWork as they went from 2 to 20.

I think it’s down to the people and the culture. I’ve worked in super corporate settings where everyone was always having coffee and chatting. And super start-uppy with football tables and ping pong where most folks kept their heads down and focused on getting things done and not playing all the time.

Edit: some of the motivational slogan stuff was a bit over the top for me. But just assumed it’s a cultural difference between myself and Americans. The coffee was OK.
Lol the coffee was OK too bad it wasn't artisan coffee.
 

TonyStark

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It seems like one would get really distracted here.

If you want to feel like you’re part of a start-up, then sure, pay $XXX per month.

But referring to Deep Work by Cal Newport, it’s hard to be focused in a deep level of concentration with an open office environment, glass walls, and constant alternatives (chattering employees, games, etc) to tasks at hand.

Looks more like a social, happy hour, than a work place.

We’re trying to remove distractions, not add more.

But to each their own.
 

DaveC

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I've used them for meetups and for meetings where we needed to get together to whiteboard stuff and bounce ideas off one another, but wouldn't use it for solo work personally. I get that some people need to be in an office to get stuff done and get too distracted at home, or need a space for meetings. I always just considered Wework a hipper Regus type of deal.
 

JScott

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Not a representative sample, but I've been cursorily involved in two companies that got their start in WeWork...

The first was a tech company that I invested in that started in one of the San Francisco WeWork buildings. They outgrew the space in about two years, and then were purchased two years later. The founders are now back in the WeWork space with their next company, though I think they're about to outgrow it again.

The second is a real estate crowdfunding company that I advise. They are in a NYC WeWork facility. They have grown to a multi-million dollar company over the past 3 years, now have offices in two cities and about 40 employees. One of the big benefits of their space is that they have large open areas where they can host conferences, speakers, etc., and bring together their customers in a setting that they wouldn't be able to afford independently.

I'm sure there are plenty of companies that don't thrive in that type of environment, but from my experience, some definitely do...

Again, definitely not representative, but my experience...
 
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juba.hadjal

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Anyone here have space at WeWork?

The whole concept feels like Starbucks on steroids where everyone goes to be seen, but no actual work gets done. (At least "deep work.")
I don't know if there is one here in France but I think it could be interesting to have a working space where we can show off. I guess there are people who are there to flex and brag about working in a beautiful working space but as it is not cheap to rent "I suppose" it would be a waste of time and money to not actually work hard and get things done.

I know there are networks renting offices for Youtubers and they generally post more content afterwards. It can serve as a bunker to flee from noise, family, and friends... I guess I would be more focused if I had a real office, instead of having my son disturbing my work flow.
 

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These guys started there. You can see the offices in their early videos.

It seems like a nice place to run your company. You can take a look at first few videos to see the workspace.
 

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Kak

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I asked this question a while back.

I ended up taking a tour, thinking that despite my prejudice against stuff like that, it might fill a need I had... Hard no. Massive lack of focus. Hippy verging on unprofessional. I feel like I would have a hard time leading an organization in an environment shared with the types of companies that like this stuff.

Huge divide between what I needed which was professional nearby overflow space as I grow. And what they are... A bigger Starbucks.
 
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ZF Lee

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I asked this question a while back.

I ended up taking a tour, thinking that despite my prejudice against stuff like that, it might fill a need I had... Hard no. Massive lack of focus. Hippy verging on unprofessional. I feel like I would have a hard time leading an organization in an environment shared with the types of companies that like this stuff.

Huge divide between what I needed which was professional nearby overflow space as I grow. And what they are... A bigger Starbucks.
My country is having a few of these shared workspaces popping up as well, but I also share some fears that the places are just going to turn out into bigger Starbucks as well.
I watched one of their ads and was aghast to see young folks on it playing around with water guns.

@Xeon, that's the question: work or play?!

I'm not sure if in-house facilities for playing games is supposed to be a way for folks to deal with work stress. I thought that solving key problems reduced stress, not some fancy office game.

But I like the model of WeWork, and shared office spaces in general. Owning one of these places, you could have revenue streams from drinks and food kiosks and transport, not just office space rental. And if one has a product that is specially for office use, perhaps shared offices spaces can be a testbed for feedback.
 

JScott

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I'm not sure if in-house facilities for playing games is supposed to be a way for folks to deal with work stress. I thought that solving key problems reduced stress, not some fancy office game.
Since many of the companies that are occupying WeWork facilities are fledgling tech companies, they are trying to appeal to quintessential silicon valley idea of bringing together work and social life.

The purpose isn't as a way to reduce stress as much as it's a way to encourage employees to work longer hours. In silicon valley, many companies have not only games and toys on site, but they bring in food/chefs for lunch and dinner, have dry cleaning services on site, allow pets, have sleeping areas, etc.

Think about it -- why do twenty-something employees ever leave work? Generally, it's to eat, sleep, walk their dog, wash their clothes, etc. If you don't have to leave to do these things, you work more hours...
 

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I actually really like WeWork, but it is much pricier than a lot of other coworking spaces. In Portland, where real estate is increasingly expensive, we now have 3 wework locations and a lot of local tech startups use them to scale up because they only have to commit month-to-month (vs a 3-7 year commercial lease) or Silicon Valley companies that want a discount on engineering talent will buy a workspace for remote employees here in Portland. No one seems to socialize much - it's pretty much just a coffeeshop that you can leave your computer at overnight and where you won't get kicked out for working.

I do have a free version of the "lite" membership which means I get 2 credits a month for a "hot desk" and I use it to book conference rooms or workspaces when I'm traveling instead of setting up shop inside a coffeeshop all day. The fact that it is a consistent "franchise" means that while the spaces are locally attuned, you know what you're getting - even if you walk into the Shanghai wework when you're from Atlanta.

I love that they have beautiful architecture actually because it helps me be inspired and can impress clients when we meet there. And all the sundries are taken care of - mail, coffee, clean bathrooms, internet service - things that you don't want to worry about when you're focused on your own business.

The amount of networking that takes place seems to be really dependent on how many solopreneurs vs established companies you have. Portland's WeWork has major companies in it like LuLuLemon, which lends to a lot less networking than places like NY where nearly everyone is a 1- or 2-person company.

Coworking spaces can actually be a pretty good business. I know a friend here that's been running a 2-location coworking space for 10 years and makes excellent money.

ETA: I find I get less distracted here than I did at home when I lived in a studio. At home I had a cat; a fridge, a TV...any number of things to pull my focus. At the co-working space I'm just there to work. But I've always worked in open-plan style offices so I'm used to big headphones.
 
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Kak

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Since many of the companies that are occupying WeWork facilities are fledgling tech companies, they are trying to appeal to quintessential silicon valley idea of bringing together work and social life.

The purpose isn't as a way to reduce stress as much as it's a way to encourage employees to work longer hours. In silicon valley, many companies have not only games and toys on site, but they bring in food/chefs for lunch and dinner, have dry cleaning services on site, allow pets, have sleeping areas, etc.

Think about it -- why do twenty-something employees ever leave work? Generally, it's to eat, sleep, walk their dog, wash their clothes, etc. If you don't have to leave to do these things, you work more hours...
Very interesting point there which is why I went looking at it... I thought, despite my views of what a business environment should be, I might be overlooking something that could work very well for us.

Whether this is a good idea or not is such a multi-dimensional question...

How is the turnover?
Are people poaching your good employees?
Can you poach their employees?
Are they distracted?
Are they encouraged to stay longer?
Are companies competing within over who can be the most progressive and hippy?
Are you completly off putting to intreverted employees that could be rockstars?
What about privacy and confidentiality?

I know the numbers on the place, and like them a lot... Very easy to go from a home office to a legitimate place of business adding one employee at a time.

I think there would be a massive market for something FAR more conservative with a simillar business model. By conservative, I dont mean stuffy. Cool furniture and an inspiring, ambitious, “monied” looking place would totally interest me.
 
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S.Y.

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I think there would be a massive market for something FAR more conservative with a simillar business model. By conservative, I dont mean stuffy. Cool furniture and an inspiring, ambitious, “monied” looking place would totally interest me.
You should check out Breather.com
It might be what you are looking for. They don't have many locations yet and are scaling up.
 
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Kak

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Virtual Offices, and Office Spaces – Servcorp never heard of them before, but looks nice.

Interesting. Looks like the pay per employee model is spilling over into the more traditional executive suites and they are getting cheaper to compete. Gosh, I love capitalism.

This model is killer for incremental business changes in the beginning when you don't want to concern yourself with making sure the bathrooms are clean and stocked, the common areas are kept nice, the utilities are paid, what furniture to buy and so on. I see them as a great place for the 0-30 employee stage of a company.
 
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Xeon

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@Xeon, that's the question: work or play?!
JScott sums it up : to encourage employees to live, work and play there. In SG, the area in
Buena Vista is home to companies like this. Of course, not as insane as WeWork's, but has a lot of the usual gimmicks : pool table, pancake making area, fanciful pantry that looks like a bar and all that nonsense.
Companies like these also tend to have LOTS & LOTS of events outside office hours : family days, company cohesion days, outings....

Good if your goal is to be a slave for the rest of your life, but if you want to start your own hustle, then it's a massive time and energy sucker.

One rule I always follow : If I go for an interview and the company looks like the type mentioned above, run.
 

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Anyone here have space at WeWork?

The whole concept feels like Starbucks on steroids where everyone goes to be seen, but no actual work gets done. (At least "deep work.")

When you're playing Foosball and drinking coffee all day in the atrium, are you really doing work?

Just curious what other's experiences have been...

I don't operate well in these "shared workspaces", not to mention the motivational sludge all over the place ("do what you love!")

Interesting article about the concept, including some detail in how it got started. (The founder's backstory, or process!)

How WeWork became the most hyped startup in the world | WIRED UK

There are at least 3 in my immediate vicinity (I work in the UK equivalent of Wall Street and live in the UK equivalent of hipster central/tech hub). I have attended meet up events (Google host some events in one and I'm a member of that network). I have also gone to the one based in the tech part which was for the purpose of getting an MVP for my initial idea last year. I couldn't work in one myself as I think open-plan offices generally have repeatedly been proven to contribute to high stress levels and generally don't contribute to collaboration (which, in addition to being cheaper was one of the rationales for introducing open plan working way back when). I think the rental of an office space there is relatively cheap and the marketing has added to the hype of WW. Having said that, there is some value in simply being around people on the basis of networking whilst Starbuck-ing and playing foosball. I've not looked at the numbers of the business model and whether it is operating in profit yet but they are expanding at a pretty phenomenal rate here.
 

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JAVB

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Private space for deep work will always be required. It's easy to see this as an issue in co-working spaces but that's why you get those headphones on. I recently read "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" and she made an interesting point related to this. She explained that going to these places creates some peer pressure that can actually make you more productive. It's easy for me to procrastinate in my home-office, but getting dressed, going to a Starbucks, grabbing a coffee, and seeing 8 - 10 other people hooked to their laptops make me feel an urge of catching up because these F**kers are "outworking me".
 
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So basically it's trying to get employees to work like entrepreneurs.

For entrepreneurs, WORK and LIFE tend to be the same unit, and in an "always on" capacity.
For employees, they aren't. You work, you go home, and you're done.

So these work spaces are trying to bridge that gap between WORK and LIFE, to blend them as one unit like an entrepreneur. And then, you'll work like most entrepreneurs; instead of 9-5, you're going 7 to 7, because hey, there's a video game and a waffle machine.

Interesting indeed.
 

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to encourage employees to live, work and play there
Does that work though? Won't they just end up stretching the same amount of productivity over a day rather than 8 hours? I wonder why they don't just go all the way and have them sleep at the office; would be more efficient than them commuting 10 times a week just to sleep.

With coworking spaces I found it really depends on the space and who it draws. Some just have dudes completely plugged in, others have douchebags strolling around and loudly chatting and generally treating it like a lounge. The former place is good, because you feel more compelled to stick to work than you would at home. The latter place is useless, because the action fakers distract you with their noise and irritating demeanor.
 

Private Witt

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I had a hot desk out of a We Work in Seattle last year. I loved the experience, but I had a hard time focusing not having the same space and always forgot something at home that ruined my session.

I did make a few outstanding connections that are still bearing fruit.

My plan is to go back later in the year or next year, but Id rather have an office. The problem is the one and two person offices are way to small and is like working in a closet. Id say the smallest that would give you breathing room would be a four-person space, with only two people in there.

I didnt see much distraction with the ping-pong table and other games, but the beer tap got a lot of use.
 

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This type of working space has been getting some ground in my country as well. While it is an interesting concept, it is still fairly new so i guess that many companies/startups are reticent towards adopting this model. It is also interesting from the PoV of the person who owns the real estate ;)
 

Xeon

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Office inspiration for productivity-oriented and true deep work lovers and non-action fakers:

 

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I visited a crypto company that had a market cap in the billions, and their main office in a WeWork.

It worked for them, but they also refused to let us take videos/pictures so that investors wouldn't lose faith since they were a "WeWork company".

As described above, the environment can work well if you get your own dedicated office and manage the culture in that space.
 

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I have no experience with WeWork, apparently they don't have space here in Phoenix. I like the concept of coworking spaces in general, since I typically work from home and it's nice to get out and be around other humans / have a change in scenery.

I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea of ping pong / games in the workplace, however.

I have, at various times, gone to:

The Tempe public library to work (the original coworking space)
Gangplank in downtown Chandler
Starbucks
Galvanize in Downtown Phoenix.

I like the atmosphere at Gangplank the best. People seem focused on their work, I have SSH access to my homework station, and it's not huge and bustling with bright eyed 20 somethings. It's also free.

The library is somewhat sketchy, since it's open to everyone.

Starbucks is always a cluster frack, and I never get much work done.

Galvanize is cool. They have lots of talks and the space is really nice, but the cost is too high.
 

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