Beige walls, clicking of keyboard keys, the quiet whirring of computers, people at desks in formal clothes, sitting in straight-backed chairs... When you think of an "office", these are images that invariably pop up. WeWork, founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York, is a company that's trying to change that.
Almost a decade old, the company specialises in providing coworking spaces to individuals and organisations in metro cities across the world. WeWork employs almost 8000 people globally and is present in 27 countries, 100 cities and at 425 locations.
Internationally, over 45,000 companies and more than 400,000 members are working out of a WeWork - from startups and small companies to household names like Dell, KPMG, GE, Microsoft, and Samsung. In India, some of the notable companies that use WeWork include Twitter, GoDaddy, Practo, and Discovery India. WeWork has almost 52 per cent of an enterprise audience using their co-working spaces here in India and it's mostly millennials and independent workers that the company has its eye on.
To target millennials, the marketing team at WeWork brainstormed and came up with an in-house property called "Stories." These stories aimed to be a celebration of those who were passionate enough to follow their dreams and would span across genres. They're aired on WeWork's social media handles. We spoke to WeWork India's marketing head Vineet Singh about the initiative.
The first edition was called Stories from the pitch and starred cricketers, Shane Watson and Brett Lee. The second edition saw football players Sunil Chhetri, Albert Serran and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu taking the stage to share their experiences.
"The whole concept came up because we wanted a new way to connect with our existing audience. We want to target millennials. What's the new way to let people experience the conversations that we have at WeWork. That's how Stories came about. It's not necessarily related to sports; it could also be related to literature, education etc. We want to get people who have lived magical lives, have them talk to people and go out and tell their story," Singh tells us.
He points out that at the core of what it does, WeWork specialises in coworking spaces. "Who better than members from the sports world to talk about working collaboratively and teamwork. When you play a sport, that's when the connection comes forward; that's the story that we wanted to go forth with," he explains.
"We believe in collaborations and connections and people coming in. Professionalism is not defined just by the way you conduct yourself; whether it's by wearing a formal shirt and coming to work or sitting with a laptop in a board room and conducting meetings. Professionalism, for us, is when we come together and collaborate together," he adds.
Singh reminisces of his time at Google where he worked as a technical head and then as a media and platform sales specialist. "At Google, we had this saying - 'You don't need to be in a suit to be serious,'" he says.
He reminds us that in India, 46 per cent of the workforce is millennial of which 65 per cent are under the age of 35. "We wanted to create a campaign on social platforms because that's where 65 per cent of India is spending its time," he says in a very matter-of-factly tone.
Singh additionally tells us that coworking is a nascent and growing category in India. "It's a category that's not yet fully understood here and has a lot of scope to grow. It started with freelancers buying into this concept a lot quicker because they wanted a space where they could go out to, chill and work. Now enterprises are also reaching out to us because of the culture and the community aspect that we bring to the table," he informs us.
Singh also explains that despite having a presence in multiple cities, the DNA of WeWork's functioning remains the same. Designs are also standard across the globe. He reveals that the staircases are narrowly built on purpose to encourage people to bump into each other so that it could be a starting point for conversations.
During the conversation, Singh also mentions that WeWork doesn't own any of the buildings that it operates from. It collaborates with local landlords to set up the spaces and offer their services to the consumers.
In India, WeWork competes with 91Springboard, The Playce, The Hive, Innov8 Coworking, and a few others.
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