India is turning into the land of coworking spaces. According to Knight Frank India report, the first six months of 2019 saw 4 Mn sq ft of office space leased by coworking operators across cities. Large enterprises and corporates are increasingly driving the demand for coworking spaces, followed by SMEs and startups. Among this group of companies, WeWork has tried to bounce back from the global controversy and the meltdown in its valuation as its IPO plans withered away.
In India, the coworking company is present in 28 locations and claims to seat over 35K members across four cities currently, with 52K desks. In 2019, it added more than 10K desks, launched in Pune, and expanded its presence in NCR with Noida.
Despite the problems in the global market, WeWork has managed to carve a niche in India and forged a strong brand identity for itself. Speaking to Inc42, Karan Virwani, the head of WeWork India or “CWeO” told us that the key differentiators for WeWork India include identifying what new businesses need and fuelling creativity through various on-ground events, amenities and activities.
13 Reasons Why WeWork Is Different From Other Coworking Spaces In India
Here’s a detailed look at what WeWork counts as differentiation factors in the coworking space, straight from Virwani.
1.Insight Into Business Behaviour:
“We offer medium and large-scale corporates flexible workspaces with uber-cool facilities at economical rates, as compared to a traditional office space,” he told Inc42.
As a coworking space with a global footprint and diverse membership base, WeWork is able to gain unique insights into businesses and their employees are evolving, Virwani added.
2. Cost-effective Workspaces:
“WeWork allows enterprises to lock in costs for higher capacity based on future projections allowing for the elasticity of occupancy in tenure and scale, and reduction in costs associated with leasing traditional real estate.”
3. Fuelling Creativity And Innovation:
A collaborative work environment boosts creativity and innovation among teams, Virwani contended.
“It also has a positive effect on employee productivity and retention. A well-designed space further adds to bolster productivity and helps in attracting or retaining talent.”
4. Diversity In Coworkers:
WeWork as an operator with a global presence has a vast network of workspaces that enterprises can tap into for use. “Motivated by the tight labour market and enabled by technology, organisations are now recruiting talent from different locations across the world and professional coworking provides a home to many of these far-flung teams and individuals,” according to Virwani.
5.Better Retention Of Talent:
The amenities and networking opportunities that WeWork offers its members is unparalleled, the CWeO said. “The cool vibe and modern approach we take to the notion of work makes us an incredibly desirable workspace to work out of. This is what has led to a lot of enterprises to occupy our spaces, who want to work out of the best workspaces, attracting and retaining top talent who are young and passionate about their work.”
The WeWork India head added that these benefits make coworking an attractive proposition for startups in India, where a third of the population and 46% of the workforce are millennials.
6. Designed For Specialists, Projects:
Enterprises have widely used coworking spaces for specialist project teams which are characterised as multi-disciplined, secret, time-sensitive or short-lived. Coworking spaces are a natural foil for these teams as they foster a creative and dynamic environment, ideal for this purpose.
7. Suitable as Swing and Overflow Spaces:
Enterprises also use coworking in a temporary capacity as swing or overflow spaces to bridge any gaps in capacity at primary locations.
8. Aestheticism And Focus On Design:
“We pay attention to using architectural and design principles to create an environment that enhances employee creativity and productivity. The moment a space is in our possession, the design team begins in-depth research to gather more information and know it better.”
According to Virwani, design manifests itself in various elements inside and outside the building. The in-house arts and graphics team creates custom installations and artwork for these spaces, which speak of the local traditions, history of the city and culture. “All of this is an effort to provide our members with an environment that boosts their creativity and productivity while enabling collaboration and collective learning,” he added.
9. Technology Differentiation:
This is a major debate in the context of WeWork. Is it a tech company? Virwani said WeWork uses technology in many ways to maximise productivity. “Technology is used to create a blueprint for optimal office design and we use it to learn about how our spaces are used by our members. We also use data-driven insights to understand member usage and then design our spaces to encourage collaboration.”
10. Access To Global Community:
WeWork members have access to a global community, which they use to collaborate and add value to their businesses. The WeWork member network serves as a platform to connect and interact with members in different parts of the world. In addition to this, the WeWork member network app is an example of allowing members to connect globally.
11. Amenities And Facilities:
WeWork prides itself on the unparalleled services and amenities. “We have a dedicated community team at every location who work to enable collaboration, engagement and networking between members. They play an important role in developing a larger community that encourages collaboration and creates connections between members by providing them with the best-on-ground work experience.”
Apart from this WeWork offers a host of benefits for members such as:
- TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday) Breakfasts – Every Monday, members are able to avail a select breakfast menu on the house to help them beat the Monday blues
- Wellness Wednesdays – Fitness activities every week for members to workout and connect over salsa, yoga, pilates and Zumba.
- Access to exclusive discounts – WeWork Members get exclusive discounts on business services, retail and shopping
- Pet-friendly workspaces – WeWork is an extremely pet-friendly workspace and host members regularly get their pets to work.
12. Flexible Tariffs:
“We offer medium and large-scale corporates flexible workspaces with state of the art facilities at economical rates, as compared to a traditional office space. We also offer them the opportunity and flexibility to set up several departments and teams in different locations.”
Virwani added that for a lot of large companies, the swing space provides employees with flexibility. “Apart from this, we also see that companies at different growth stages taking up space as WeWork allows the flexibility to upsize, resize or downsize based on need. We allow companies to focus on their short-term needs so that they can focus on their long-term objectives.”
13. Diverse Membership Models:
With hot desks, dedicated desks, and private offices, WeWork offers something for startups of all sizes.
- Hot desks- These are flexible workspaces offered to members where they avail 24/7 access to workspace, allowing them to move around and work from different desks, every day
- Dedicated desks – These are fully furnished desks that are ideal for those who like to work from the same spot each day
- Private offices – WeWork also offers enterprises the option to opt for private offices which range from accommodating one person to 100 or more people.
These models offer flexibility to enterprises to increase or decrease their workforce as per market dynamics without worrying about the lock-in period of the lease or paying fixed rents. Enterprises choose to opt for WeWork as it helps reduce the expense of running an office by approximately 20%-25% by eliminating hefty deposits, long term leases, and other expenses by bringing all of these costs together into one easy membership fee.
“We don’t limit ourselves to coworking. We are building the future of work and disrupting traditional real estate. We are focussed on building a global community using technology and our spaces to bring people together and transform buildings into dynamic environments for creativity, focus, and collaboration.”