Back in December 2016, as I was preparing for waving my 9 to 5 goodbye and going independent, I knew working at home would not be an option. Even if I’d had my own home office, which I didn’t, I would have sought a workspace solution. The reason: I believe work and life should be separated as much as possible. There’s something about grabbing your laptop and bag and going to your office, which makes me feel more serious about it, and make your loved ones respect it more. (Further down the road, I came across other WeWork members who shared the same feelings).
So, what do you do? Hire an office with all the resulting headaches (long-term contracts, taxes, broadband, renovations etc.)? Set up shop at the local café?
Luckily shared workspaces have become more prevalent and affordable than ever, with WeWork being the trend leader, owning over 179 office locations worldwide and counting.
If you’re a solopreneur like me, a freelancer, startup or you run a small company, or even a corporation, this WeWork review could help you choose your next office or co-working space. Enjoy, and share your own co-working experience in the comments 😊
Table of contents
- The pros & cons of shared workspaces
- Why WeWork?
While rental fees range across coworking space companies (and sometimes even within separate locations within the same company), the chances are you’ll be saving a lot over renting a traditional office, and certainly over working at a café if you’re a one-man-band. Printing, office supplies, high-speed internet, refreshments, cleaning and maintenance, front desk service and meeting rooms are usually part of the deal. You often get other perks such as gym access and other benefits. Tax overhead? Forget it! If you’re a solopreneur or a small team, coworking space is a no-brainer. But even bigger companies can save up to 25% on renting costs.
This is huge. Most coworking spaces offer flexible monthly plans to fit everyone’s budget and needs, whether you need a ‘flexible desk’ or a private office for you and your team. Since there’s usually no annual commitment you can often upgrade your membership as you go along. Here at WeWork Hazerem (Tel Aviv) I’ve seen people going from a shared space to a private office, freelancers doubling their private office space and startups moving from two separate office into a larger one, so the entire team could sit together. Every month a new office pops up, and new entrepreneurs come along while others move on.
Productivity & performance
As the infographic below implies, around 70% of coworkers have reported feeling healthier, meeting more deadlines and being able to focus more. Coworking can also reduce stress and increase workplace satisfaction, which can also boost productivity. Other related stats are higher incomes (50% of coworkers) and more confidence. There are many ways to explain these figures. I think that the well-designed spaces, glass walls, fun & stress-free atmosphere, soft lighting and the general startup, entrepreneurial spirit at these spaces are the major reasons.
The lack of direct competition or internal politics means members of coworking spaces can be themselves, strengthen their work identity, collaborate and become part of a meaningful social movement of coworkers.
More job control
Since most coworking spaces allow 24/7 access, people who use them can often tailor their working schedule to fit their daily needs and choose their ideal space. Plus, the coworking community helps independent coworkers regain some structure, discipline and motivation they may have lost.
Most coworking spaces go to great lengths to cultivate their own communities and as a result, many members feel a keen sense of identity with the community. This also alleviates the feeling of loneliness working from home can bring about. It’s not uncommon for the community managers to know you by name and profession and greet you as you enter the building. There are many opportunities to interact and collaborate if you so choose, during events, fitness classes, happy hours, coffee breaks etc.
No, this is not a typo. As much as being part of a community has enormous potential for all the aforementioned reasons, the social aspect can sometimes be a chore. We all have bad days once in a blue moon when we don’t feel like socializing or being asked “Is everything OK?”. Or maybe you don’t feel like seeing the client from the top floor who’s missed his due payment, or you simply want to work, work, work… While you can always choose to stay away from social interactions, you can’t completely avoid them. So, if you’re downright asocial, stay at home, or get your own office. 😊
True to their flexible nature, shared workspaces change constantly. The startup in front of you may disappear or move to another space, and your dedicated desk neighbor may get hired and leave next month. Also, depending on your plan, there’s a limit to how much you can customize your office/desk to call it your own (e.g. drilling holes, hanging pictures, painting walls etc.). But that’s probably not too bad, because these spaces are well-designed and optimized for productivity.
As Officevibe’s infographic implies, 78% of coworkers are under 40 and Huckletree’s founder Gabriela Hersham can tell you why. So, good news if you’re a millennial and sad news if you’re not? Not necessarily – there’s no age discrimination in coworking space, and I’ve seen companies with 30-year-old guys collaborating beautifully with 50-year-old team members, so worry not. Just know what to expect 😊
As ironic as it may sound, the fact that these coworking spaces are so well designed and maintained means you may be tempted to work long hours and in odd hours. Because it doesn’t feel like work, you can spend hours chilling or chatting with coworkers, or simply dive into a super-productive state which you will not want to lose. Is it a bad thing? I guess it depends on you and your other half…
Now that you understand why you may need a coworking space, you may want to start comparing spaces online, their plans, pricing, services etc. I’m here to tell you to save your valuable time and read on. By the end of this WeWork review, you’ll have a clear understanding why I can’t recommend this community enough.
Established back in 2010, WeWork was created with the community in mind, as their mission implies:
“To create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living.”
That tells a lot about a company. Fast-forward to 2017, WeWork owns 179 office locations in 47 cities.
Everything just works. Period.
7 years of constant growth and expansion in the coworking industry mean WeWork have gotten it together. If your office door is broken, rest assured it will be quickly fixed. The printers will always work. The internet is super-fast. (upload & download) If the network is down, (extremely rare), IT will soon be on board so you can keep on working. There will always be fresh coffee, beer, soda and an assortment of teas in the fridge. The office glass walls windows are sound proof so you can hold meetings without distraction. You’ll be notified well in advance about all the community events, yoga classes and any maintenance works in your location. And the list goes on… Look at the message I recently got:
“Dear Members, our IT team will be working on the wireless network at 16:00 today. the Wi-Fi will be temporarily down for 10 minutes. The Cable Net will be running as usual. Thank you for your patience.”
So, if you’re just starting out, especially if you’re on a limited budget, consider capitalizing on WeWork’s experience and save time, money and energy.
Workspaces that don’t feel like work
“Do what you love” is what WeWork goes by, and this is indeed the feeling I’ve been getting here, right from day 1. You can really tell that there’s true attention to all details in the way WeWork’s office locations are designed and maintained. Everything works together in harmony to create that fun, stress-free experience – right from the background music in the common areas, through the inspiring aesthetic and vibe in the spacious common areas, the wooden flooring and the glass walls, allowing natural light through while maintaining privacy.
This means you can focus on growing your business without worrying about anything else – WeWork takes care of the rest.
- Super-fast internet – The internet connection is speedy (1Gbps upload & download) and very stable, especially on wired connections. This is key especially if you do design, video editing and other tasks that require fast connection. Ethernet ports and power sockets are widely available throughout the building and so is fast Wi-Fi.
- Business-class printers/copiers/scanners – Depending on your plan, you’ll have a reasonable number of printing credits per months (I’m renting a dedicated desk and getting 120 B&W print credits and 20 color prints per month). Additional prints cost ¢.10bw / ¢.10 color, or you can upgrade your package and save if you’re a heavy user. Conveniently, there are heavy-duty printers on every floor. Whether you’re on Mac or PC, printing is easy, seamless and fast and reliable, even in massive quantities.
- Refreshments – What’s your drink of choice? Soda? Fruit water? Craft on draft, hot chocolate, coffee or maybe green tea? Whatever it is, the chances are you can get it for free at the kitchen, located on each floor. Kitchens also include large fridges to keep your own food, microwaves, Nespresso machines (if you bring your own capsules) and a nice assortment of kitchen tools. Heck, there’s even a citrus juicer if you need to boost your vitamin C!
- Service & maintenance – WeWork’s locations are always staffed. In most locations, managers are available from 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri. They’ll greet you and your guests, do their best to help you and (depending on your plan) handle your mail & package. At the managers’ absence, the buildings will be guarded. This means you can safely leave your computers, phones and other equipment at your office. The dedicated desk plan and above provide you with a unique key to your private office/shared space and only WeWork members/accompanied visitors/staff can access any building floor. Essentially your belongings are protected behind 2-5 locked doors at any given time while you’ve got 24/7 access to the building! The offices are cleaned daily, and the customer service is top notch. I never had to wait longer than 2 hours (normally less) to get a reply from support. There are always maintenance teams on board, making sure everything works, improving and innovating.
- Advanced meeting rooms – Every floor has various meeting rooms. Beautifully designed, these rooms vary in size and are fully equipped with large displays, video conference equipment and sound proof glass walls. Members can easily book them via the WeWork app using credits, or simply step inside and use them for free outside business hours.
- Special office needs – WeWork offers a range of premium services to fit the needs of your growing team. IT services (paid monthly) include general IT support, IP addresses, VLANs and data center services. General handyman services include furniture assembly, TV mounting and more. Offices can also get VoIP phone service with easy plug-and-play setup. Oh, and you get your first logo sticker free! Take a guided tour around WeWork’s location floors and you’ll see in your own eyes how creative some creators – shiatsu practitioners, video editors, graphic designers and other startups – have gotten with their setup. Some have added carpets, coat hangers, LCD screens, couches, shelves and more – I believe the managers are open-minded in that sense!
- Private phone booths & couches – Although phone calls are allowed in common areas, sometimes you need your privacy. That’s why every floor has private phone booths. Just close the door, sit on the stool and imagine you’re back in the good old 90s… Plus, you may be tired sitting at the same space with the same people all the time. So simply grab your laptop, find a couch, a bar stool or an unoccupied meeting room and fly solo! Or if the weather is nice, why not chill on the lawn outside or chill on the roof?
Sounds good? Start enjoying everything WeWork has to offer.
Flexible month-to-month membership plans
WeWork offers 4 monthly membership plans (Prices vary based on location) for individuals, small teams and companies, with custom options for large corporations. The month-to-month agreements mean you can be flexible, sign up to the plan that fits your budget and upgrade your plan as you grow. Bliss!
- On-Demand – Starting at $45/month, the We Membership is WeWork’s pay-as-you-go plan, allowing freelancers, business travelers and random visitors access to the community and the option to book workspace.
- Hot Desk – Starting at $220/month, this plan is a great fit for remote and part-time workers. You’ll get 24/7 access to the common area of your preferred WeWork location and 2 monthly credits – use them to book a conference room/workspace at any other office location worldwide.
- Dedicated Desk – Starting at $300/month, this plan – which I’m currently on – give you the best of both worlds. You’ll have 24/7 access to your own desk in a shared space with like-minded entrepreneurs but you won’t pay the private office fee. Plus, you’ll enjoy a quiet atmosphere (phone conversations are not allowed in shared spaces) without feeling alone. This program is perfect for solopreneurs, startups and small agencies and those who like to have their own desk, and it brings about many opportunities for collaboration, growth and friendships. You’ll also get a private key to your shared space, a comfortable chair, lamp and a lockable filing cabinet. Services include printing, mail and package services and five credits to book a conference room/workspace at any other WeWork location worldwide.
- Private Office – Now we’re getting serious! Starting at $400/month, WeWork’s private office are enclosed, lockable, secure and fully-customizable to fit your needs. The offices can accommodate teams of 1-100+. The glass walls will encourage transparency and collaboration and you and your team will enjoy 24/7 access, desks, chairs, lamps and filing cabinets. Obviously, you’ll also get printing, mail and package services and 12 or more credits for conference rooms/workspaces at any other WeWork location. Other add-ons, such as business phones (starting at $60/month per line), handyman and IT services are available upon request.
- Enterprise – Industry-leading companies such as Dell, Microsoft, Pinterest, Salesforce and the Guardian have decided to become part of the WeWork community. The benefits: A custom workplace experience without the hassle of a traditional office. Your corporation will enjoy all the office amenities, cleaning and maintenance, We Membership and a lot more, for up to 25% less per month. Whatever your team size, WeWork can create an optimal office solution for you. Take the Odyssey as an example – the media company joined WeWork in 2014, with two small offices. Now in their fourth space, they occupy an entire floor and part of another.
Global community of creators
With over 80,000 members, and 179 office locations in 47 major cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Sydney, Buenos Aires and Beijing, WeWork is by far the largest coworking space provider worldwide. Tap into this immense potential and enjoy endless opportunities for collaborations with other members – face to face or over WeWork’s member network app. Its social feed and job board are thriving! I’ve already teamed up with 2 other members for a couple of projects, and I’ve seen some beautiful collaborations among members in my shared space and throughout the office. Many projects start with a casual chat in the kitchen over a beer!
What’s more, if you happen to visit another city, across the world, where there’s a WeWork office location, you can use a credit and easily book a shared space/conference room via the app.
There are many events in locations, and Community Managers really do their best to make them fun and exciting. You’ll enjoy weekly happy hours (each week is different – make your own salad, hummus, wine tasting…), fitness classes such as yoga, Pilates and strength & mobility workouts, startup events and lectures from tech leaders and other interesting people, one-on-one sessions with investors and industry leaders, networking events and more. There are also wild parties, summer camps and the creator awards, celebrating new ideas and real change.
Even more benefits
WeWork goes the extra mile to support the community and give you more than 250 perks and benefits for products and services you may need to grow your business. For example: Healthcare and HR solutions from TriNet, preferred banking rates on Chase, shipping discounts with UPS, Office 365 membership and other benefits from dozens of partner companies.
You’ll also enjoy being part of a meaningful community. Think about the mission again: “To create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living.” And as WeWork’s founders explain, community is the company’s catalyst. One of its core values is that we do what we love and are connected to something greater than ourselves.
Also – being eco-friendly is part of the company’s culture. That’s why natural lighting is used wherever possible, the plates, crockery and cutlery are compostable and the conference room lights are only turned on as you enter. Plus, there’s bike storage in most locations and some locations are pet-friendly.
The WeWork community now has over 80K members. And you’re about to become one of them. Now that’s powerful!