WeWork provides over 320,000 members around the world with space, community, and services through both physical and virtual offerings. From startups and freelancers to small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, our community is united by a desire for our members to create meaningful work and lead meaningful lives—to be a part of something greater than ourselves.
That’s how you’re introduced to one of the most successful co-working spaces in Singapore (and arguably the world). 335 locations worldwide and 83 cities internationally speaks for something, doesn’t it? We’ve seen an evident rise in shared workspaces within the past decade, a sign of the times. The working environment as we know it is changing. And as we step into the evolution, we see how one company stays on top of the game. Here, we talk to Managing Director of WeWork Southeast Asia, Turochas ‘T’ Fuad, on co-working spaces past, present and future.
ESQ: What has led to the rise of co-working spaces in the recent years?
There are huge shifts towards a new way of working and living. People are focused on meaningful connections and being part of something greater than themselves. While it is also a common perception that co-working spaces are targeted at start-ups, we are seeing multinational companies seeking to expand to an Asia home base that can help them attract talent in Asia and navigate the local landscape, collaborate with other creative thinkers and business leaders in the region and grow.
ESQ: How does WeWork stay ahead of its competition?
We are more than just space. We are a global platform of creators that help people to create a life, and not just a living. By focusing on what we do best—building communities and being at the forefront with our 8 years of experience—we are fostering greater collaboration made possible by our global network, where they are able to be tapped into a global community that is larger than just their company.
And while we’re a global playbook, we operate with a local execution. Whenever we enter a new market, we work together with key partners and experts to help create the unique WeWork experience in that region. We start operations preparation early by spending time engaging with our communities and learning about local business culture long before we open the doors of a new location.
According to a new WeWork London Economic Impact Report, WeWork members in London surveyed report a 34% increase in revenue growth after joining WeWork. The WeWork economy also creates a 2.1x economic multiplier in London, meaning for every WeWork member, an additional 1.1 jobs are supported through indirect and induced spending.
ESQ: Tell us about how technology and design integrate into the WeWork experience.
Our glass offices promote a sense of transparency and community between members and also allow natural light to permeate as deep into the space as possible. Having that connection to the outside world and a natural sense of time awareness is important psychologically for anyone, particularly during work.
Our goal is to provide multiple options in terms of energy level and noise, depending on what activity and mood people are in at a given time of day. Our common areas tend to be bustling with lots of people and music playing, which yields a fantastic, infectious energy ideal for meetings and hanging out.
Colour and Decor
We focus on having a very strongly residential feel as opposed to a commercial one. Warm, inviting and cozy like a living room to make people feel comfortable while they work. Another crucial technique we employ is biophilia, the human connection to nature. Apart from adding plants and greenery, we use natural materials like wood, stone, leather and other similar mediums to generate an environment that has proven to make people lessed stress, more at ease, and creative.
We have a dedicated R&D team that monitors our workspace usage and designs our locations so that it is optimized for our members’ needs. By leveraging proptech, we increase worksite communications and accelerate the building process, curate every facet of the member experience, even track, measure, plan and monitor our rapidly growing global RE portfolio.
We also provide our members with an app, MENA, that allows them to connect seamlessly with the community and to manage their workspace experience. By enabling them to connect virtually with other members around the world, the app also includes formal and informal events to encourage digital and personal collaborations.
ESQ: Are there any interesting examples of how WeWork has fostered connectivity or community between different businesses?
Indeed’s Singapore Engineering Centre grew with us from Beach Centre. In June, it upgraded to an office suite for up to 50
people, as of now, the expanded team has moved into a bigger dedicated office that takes up an entire floor for 191 staff—all within the same location where the team has also noticed a rise in engagement between their engineers and the community.
ESQ: Do you see more of existing companies switching to use co-working spaces, or startups that use co-working spaces as a launching pad before getting their own properties?
We are seeing increased interest from multinational corporations. More capital at WeWork’s disposal yields a greater ability to take on bigger buildings. This, in turn, allows WeWork’s team to have conversations with big companies about taking larger portions of their teams.
As enterprises are also at war to attract and retain the best talent in the marketplace, the question here really is how are we supporting them through our space and community to help them attract and retain the best people to drive their mission. As we understand how workspace is more than a lease, WeWork is accelerating how such enterprises move to the next frontier.
For instance, using our Culture OS to organize and operate culture, WeWork’s offerings such as Powered by We enables WeWork to work with a member company to build or renovate a space, equip it with new technology and ultimately operate the space to understand how employees interact with it and each other.
ESQ: Where do you see the future of co-working spaces in the next decade?
[It has to be] going beyond a space provider alone. WeWork was founded with community in mind, and have since diversified our offerings. Rise by We is the first wellness facility that offers community-based group fitness, multiple boutique studios, wellness programs, personal training and a complete spa experience all under one roof.
WeLive is community-based apartment living. It’s hassle-free and amenity-full so that our members can focus on their passions and live more fulfilling lives. We believe there is still a lot of opportunities for this product to continue growing and scaling to disrupt the traditional multi-family housing industry, which has failed to innovate for decades.
Whether it’s work, living, education, wellness, or retail, we can reimagine and reshape the architecture of our space, buildings, and cities to support and encourage human connection and creativity.
ESQ: Which is a personal favourite WeWork space in Singapore? Why?
WeWork Beach Centre. Being the first Singapore and Southeast Asia location, this space has its own unique yet laidback vibe that will always serve as a reminder for our humble beginnings in accelerating the future of work in Southeast Asia.
To find a workspace, visit WeWork online.