Everything’s a WeWork Now | WIRED


SaksWorks coworking The space in Greenwich, Connecticut, tucked away inside what was once a Saks Fifth Avenue department store, looks like a well-equipped library where no one reads: a fireplace, stuffed sofas, and large potted plants. When I visited it on a Monday in March, the books lining each wall, grouped by color, not by topic, were an attractive backdrop for my Zoom meeting in the afternoon. There were some rooms I could have booked to make a more private call, but the space was so sparsely populated that it hardly seemed necessary.

SaksWorks was a bit of a convenience marriage for the retailer, who seeks to reuse some of their real estate as face-to-face purchases dwindle, and WeWork, the fallen coworking giant that until recently managed the space. (Saks’ parent company, Hudson’s Bay Co., has invested heavily in Convene, a competitor to WeWork that will take over.) The unlikely transformation also speaks to a peculiar consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic: these days , any place can be an office. And every office feels more and more like a WeWork.

It’s an amazing twist. The collapse of WeWork is legendary material, or at least podcasts, books, a Hulu documentary, and an Apple TV + series. The pioneer of coworking had skyrocketed to a valuation of $ 47 billion in 2019 due to elegant, comfort-rich office space and excessive venture capital. But as the company prepared to go public that year, questions arose about its viability. In just a few weeks, Adam Neumann, the charismatic co-founder responsible for much of the creation of WeWork Myths, stepped down as CEO, the company’s valuation dropped to $ 10 billion, and the IPO went public. in gel.

But while WeWork has become a warning story, office life in the United States has quietly adopted several of its basic principles. Many workers who have spent the last two years at home — a small part of the global workforce — are being called back to offices that look different from those left vacant in 2020, with fewer desks and more open spaces designed. to encourage collaboration. A survey by CBRE, a commercial real estate company, found that 51 percent of respondents expect flexible space to be a significant part of their offices over the next two years. Even the U.S. government is working on its own pilot coworking space, called FlexHub, for federal workers and contractors. Commercial owners have also been adding coworking spaces to their buildings.

Those workers who do not have a company office to report to also have opportunities to work together virtually anywhere: high-end apartment complexes; Sojo, a Korean-style day spa in New Jersey; and a music community, bar, arcade room, and art room centered on color communities called 7th West in Oakland, not to mention WeWork and its many competitors, such as Industrious and Daybase. Even virtual coworking spaces have emerged.

“The office is undergoing a major evolution,” says Paul Fiorilla, research director at Yardi Matrix, which analyzes commercial real estate. Employers, he says, now have to justify to workers why they have to show up in person.

In a survey, LinkedIn found that 87 percent of its employees want to go to the office at least part of the time. The company allows workers and teams to decide when to enter, and redesigned its headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, to emphasize meeting or open spaces on desks, says Shannon Hardy, LinkedIn’s vice president of flexible working. It now includes services such as after-hours cafes and “deep focus areas” such as a library.



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