Editor: Your article ‘The Rise and Fall of WeWork’ rightly outlined some of the irresponsible and frankly bizarre business practices employed by WeWork prior to its recent woes: damaging corporate governance, an unsustainable financial model, strange management practices and too many spin-off ventures held loosely together under the We Company brand.
Certainly there is a huge job at hand to rebuild the company’s reputation and credibility in the wake of these issues. However, I think it’s also right to acknowledge some of the significant, positive change that WeWork’s rise has brought to commercial real estate. Its mission in its own words was to ‘elevate the world’s consciousness’. You could certainly argue that it has achieved that.
While it is by no means the first serviced office brand, it is without doubt the best known, and has shown the power of creating a brand and product that truly appeals to the modern worker.
More traditional landlords have been forced to look very closely at how they provide space, appeal to tenants and meet the needs of 21st-century office workers. In that sense, WeWork has undoubtedly helped raise the bar in terms of the experiences, services, flexibility and hospitality tenants now expect from a workplace, ultimately driving standards up, to the benefit of the consumer.
The future of the company will depend on just how quickly and effectively WeWork’s new co-chief executives can steady the ship, as well as how much they can limit the ongoing damage to the company’s brand and reputation – particularly among investors. Assuming they do – and that’s a big assumption – we might just be in a position in a year’s time to reflect a little more positively on WeWork’s legacy.
Bronny Wilson, regional head, UK and Ireland, Equiem