WeWork Creating Offices of the Future

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By Wickham Boyle

Manhattan is abuzz with buildings going up and others coming down. There is a continual thrum and almost rhapsodic cacophony played out by jackhammers, cranes and cement trucks, but it is rare to feel hopeful about the economy or the state of the city when one views this upheaval. Enter WeWork.

WeWork is a company launched four years ago with the mission to nurture entrepreneurs by providing the connective tissue and support they need to succeed. Or, more simply put, WeWork provides flexible, month-to-month shared office spaces with a laundry list of amenities.

"We want to support people to do what they love. If your work is your passion, you will ascend. If we can help by keeping the place clean, the trash empty, the coffee running and the vibe of your workplace, whether it is 20 people or just you, a very positive and collaborative one, then WeWork works. Really, it's that simple," said co-founder Adam Neumann.

There are already four successful WeWork offices dotted across Manhattan, one in San Francisco and another debuting in Hollywood this spring. Some of the spaces even have waiting lists.

One might expect the shared office space to be cold cubes with sterile architecture and annoying hubbub swirling around it. But stepping into the WeWork office on Little West 12th Street is like entering a Hogwarts-style collaborative high school for the cool entrepreneurial kids.

Perhaps the positivity comes from the unique architecture. All of the sitting rooms are one-of-a-kind and feature overstuffed furniture, leather chairs and bookcases filled with curios. The glass doors allow co-workers to peer in to see new product pitches or just furious thinking, writing and creating. In the WeWork space in Soho, 30 percent of the tenants are now engaged in projects with each other. There is real synergy afoot.

There are five floors at the Little West 12 Street location, featuring large conference rooms to share, a coffee bar and an actual bar. Tenants of WeWork can stay for a month or years. They are a diverse group: gold traders, theater people, hedge fund managers, inventors, shoe designers, new technology wizards and public relations mavens.

WeWork is also adding a new Tribeca site in spring 2012. The location at 175 Varick St., a full 74,000 square feet, will occupy floors 3, 4, 5 and 8, as well as some ground-floor space. The space will feature high-end office suites in addition to conference rooms with LCD monitors and screening rooms for movies and presentations.

Amenities include a recording studio, pool table, Xbox lounge, fresh fair trade organic coffee, purified water and meditation rooms for breaks and relaxation. Clients also have access to private phone booths, bike storage on the roof and discounted Zipcar memberships. As Neumann said, "The space was designed to let tenants be creative by eliminating many of the negative aspects of the mundane work environment."

As a startup company, you cannot usually offer your employees many perks. WeWork's concept, however, as explained by Eric Meyer, a manager at the development corporation Colliers, who worked with WeWork to create the new space on Varick Street, is "a next-generation office suites company that wanted to be part of the creativity and technological explosion in Hudson Square. With its nearby presence, Google sets the standard for campus-style workspaces. WeWork shares a cultural DNA that made Hudson Square a natural draw."

Miguel McKelvey, 37, who co-founded the company with Neumann, believes WeWork is "attempting to create a basis for a new environment of responsibility. We are bringing together people who are progressive in their work minds and lives.

"WeWork is making connections through a shared work environment and we are hoping to create a new paradigm that allows people to focus on creativity, much the way they did at Google by providing a collaborative environment. But WeWork is for entrepreneurs who need and want their own private Google," he explained.

In a time when it seems as if constraints of finance and space make it impossible to dream, WeWork can provide a startup office for as little at $275 dollars a month for a shared desk-there is no charge for the synergy.

The WeWork space in the Meatpacking District. Photo courtesy of WeWork

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