Guest Pass: What Coworking at WeWork is Really Like
Thinking about joining WeWork? Office Hub spent a day with the world’s largest coworking provider to see what it’s really like to rent a coworking space at WeWork.
There are thousands of coworking options in the market which makes it seriously hard to cut through the noise and find the workspace that’s right for you. With fancy websites, polished sales pitches and confusing proposals coming at you from all angles, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important to your business. But, with a decision as big as finding the right office space, you’ll pay in the long run if you cut any corners.
And if you haven’t worked in a coworking space before, it’s particularly hard to understand what it’s like compared to working from home or in your own commercial office and why one space might suit you better than others.
So we got in touch with WeWork to see if we could spend a guest day there – what’s it really like to work at the biggest flexible workspace company in the world?
It’s the brand that controls 15.5 million square feet of global coworking space, has close to 400,000 members, an estimated valuation of $US42 billion and has totally disrupted the flexible workspace industry. WeWork certainly divides opinion across the business world and we see it first hand from our clients. Some love it, some hate it and some are only there for the free beer. But it’s miles ahead of its closest competitors in terms of space, membership and valuation and its huge cult following is expected to buy into its new housing, fitness and schooling ventures.
We couldn’t wait to get to WeWork with our guest day pass to gain a better feel of what it’s really like to work there. Ellie from the OH marketing department was the lucky one who got to throw herself into the WeWork experience: here’s her count-by-count review of a day of working at WeWork 333 George Street.
8.27am – Arriving at 333 George Street
The hyper modern 333 George Street building rises tall in the heart of Sydney CBD. The all-glass A Grade tower is celebrated for its visionary design and innovative lifestyle facilities that have attracted world-leading businesses. It’s right in the heart of the city, placed between Wynyard and Martin Place stations – amazing for any young professional or entrepreneur who wants to be in the centre of the action. I jump in the elevator with a group of professionals and another WeWorker (non-corporate clothing is the giveaway!).
If you’re looking for an impressive building, prestigious address and convenient location, 333 George Street ticks every box.
8.31am – Welcome from the team
The team knows I’m coming and I get a warm welcome from one of the community managers. He’s friendly and open, explaining the facilities and introducing me to others. The communal space is brimming with positive vibes – constant activity and easy conversation are the mainstays and dubious rumours of a “frat-boy culture” are pushed way out of mind.
8.42am – Setting up my coworking desk
The communal space flows easily into the coworking area which is bathed in natural light thanks to the huge balcony extending along the back wall. People mill about, head to the boardrooms and have casual meetings on the sofas, and there’s current chart music playing in the background. It all creates a great level of activity and noise without being disruptive. The desk is spacious, there are great little perks like fresh fruit water, and I know I can call on the IT support team if I have any issues with my connection – not that I need to as the Wi-Fi is fast and consistent.
9.15am – Grabbing a coffee
Everyone stops for a chat in the kitchen, so much so it feels a bit like a hostel – the good aspects! Not only does someone help me work the coffee machine, but we have a chat about what we do and our related industries. It’s hard to believe WeWork’s big statements that you will organically build business relationships in their workspaces, but networking opportunities were popping up from the very start of my day. I could see new chances for collaboration and business coming about all the time if I worked there permanently.
The kitchen is also totally spotless and the custom-brewed micro-roasted coffee is great. Kudos too for the sign against using plastic cups.
10.31am – WeWork’s meeting rooms
This meeting room is such a fresh change from corporate meeting rooms with its quirky details and custom wallpaper. If you’re looking to encourage new ideas and creative thinking, this is the room you want. They call it the Brainstorming Room – with write-on walls and standup-friendly furniture, it’s perfectly set up for an interactive session.
Oh, and if you pop to the loos you’ll be equally dazzled by the unexpected styling. They have printed wallpaper and neon lights – I love the colourful and unique decor throughout the entire coworking hub.
11.52am – Pre-event buildup
I’m back at my desk and it’s getting busier! This area is the heart and soul of the office and it’s soon buzzing with people of all ages – mainly individuals and small groups as the seminar is geared at startups.
Pizza and Roll’d Vietnamese are the orders of the day and I have a large glass of wine in my hand before I know it (no complaints here). The teams in the bordering meeting rooms are unfazed by the commotion and I settle down on the front row ready for the event to start.
12.00pm – The event – DigitalMaas Growth Summit – “How Digital Marketing Transforms Business”
The seminar is run by DigitalMaas – CEO Andrew Thorn effortlessly entertains the audience, provides loads of great information and throws in plenty of laughs. The content is excellently tailored for startups and small businesses getting started with digital marketing. If this is what all the community events are like, I’d attend as many as possible.
There’s a Q&A at the end along with the chance to have DigitalMaas assess your online presence. There’s also a business card raffle with a few Google Home Hubs up for grabs. The whole feel is that no expense is spared in pampering WeWork members and providing the best experience possible.
2pm – Tour of WeWork’s private serviced offices
Nikola, the event manager at WeWork 333 George Street, offers to give me a tour of all five floors. We set off and wander through the corridors so I can get a better look at the serviced offices.
One criticism WeWork gets is that they offer a smaller square meterage per member than many other coworking operators. However, I’m actually impressed with the size of the offices – there’s no sense of being cramped in and each workspace looks comfortable and spacious. If you have the budget and choice, go for an external or corner office – they’re stunningly spacious and bright. But even the internal offices enjoy good natural light as all the internal walls are glass.
2.15pm – The rooftop terrace
The highlight of the tour is the landscaped outdoor terrace on one of the lower floors. Nikola explains that people forget about it as it’s not on the main communal floor but, for me, that adds to the appeal – it’s quieter and more peaceful, the perfect place for a relaxing break or group yoga class (a regular feature on the events programme). Looking across Sydney CBD’s tallest office towers on a spring day, I really do feel like I can achieve anything from my WeWork office space.
2.36pm – The private phone booths
Super impressed with this sound-proofed little sanctuary – it’s equipped with laptop surfaces, outlet cords and landlines. The booths seem in pretty high demand so if you talk on the phone all day I’d definitely recommend getting your own private office. You could even consult the WeWork team about options for soundproofing your workspace.
2.55pm – A look at WeWork’s customised workspaces
Plug-and-play offices and coworking spaces are the most popular option at WeWork but there are plenty of businesses who have grown to require a more personalised workspace. One example is a 40-person business with a private corner office at 333 George Street – they have a little reception area, their own breakout space, a couple of offices and a coworking space just for their team, all styled and branded especially for them. You get a great sense of their values just by looking at their customised WeWork office space. Ideal for any firm that wants the flexibility and a wider community without compromising on brand image.
3.30pm – Friday arvo drinks ramp up
More and more members are emerging from their offices to get the party started. The tap beers are flowing (there are four craft options) and there’s also wine and a huge Pimms dispenser. I meet even more people and we talk ideas, news, tech, sport – everything! The diverse group of entrepreneurs, innovators and creatives create an incredible atmosphere. Their plans for the night? No one knows, but they’re already looking forward to catching up about it on Monday morning!
4.42pm – My guest day is over!
Wow – what a day! The entrepreneurial spirit is infectious and I exchange business cards with my new acquaintances. We tell each other to stay in touch regarding future projects and client recommendations, and we expect to see each other again at future WeWork events.
I call it a day and make a move, utterly impressed by the whole day at WeWork – it’s polished and well-managed with plenty of perks and a genuine community. Thanks WeWork, I loved it!
Ellie’s evaluation of coworking at WeWork
With the increasing rejection of traditional workstyles and the drudgery of the nine to five, I can really see why flexible workspaces like those at WeWork can be the difference between a business that gets ahead and one that gets left behind.
If you look at employee recruitment, retention, engagement and wellness, a workspace that encourages people to work the way they live – with flexibility, freedom and a focus on social interaction – will unquestionably mean better business outcomes. In the age of social media, employees show off their beautiful workspace, awesome events and great culture, and they’ll become true advocates for your company. That’s something you can’t place a price on.
(Okay, you can put a price on it – but luckily our WeWork workspaces come at a great rate. Check out our WeWork office spaces in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane below, all available to rent right now).