WeWork to focus on micro markets

HYDERABAD POTENTIAL: Once WeWork reaches maximum occupancy level in its two co-working space locations, it plans to add more facilities. —Photo: Y V Phani Raj

Hyderabad: The US-headquartered and global collaborative workspace company, WeWork through its Indian arm WeWork India, is aiming to create a network of co-working spaces in key cities of India, and penetrate into each micro market with multiple workspace facilities within each city.

WeWork today has 32 facilities in India, spread across six cities including Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Gurugram and Noida with a cumulative of over 54,000-desk capacity, catering to 40,000 members.

Ryan Bennett, co-chief executive officer, WeWork India, told Telangana Today, “We have been successful in Bengaluru because of the strong tech base the city has. Mumbai has seen success with large number of companies representing banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sectors. Large banks such as BNP Paribas have taken large amount of space. Mumbai is also seeing demand from media. In Hyderabad, we see that technology, consulting, BFSI could be the key sectors. We also see potential in cities such as Chennai and Kolkata.”

WeWork wants to create a network effect in India and double its presence in each city, the company operates. It wants to have multiple locations in each top city in future, as it becomes easy to build community within each city. Hyderabad for instance has huge potential. The company wants to perfect the existing workspaces to fill up locations. And once the two workspaces in Hyderabad are up and running, the company will develop more locations in the city.

“We can get large buildings in India, as there is a lot of new development happening while it could be difficult in Japan (Tokyo). Each market’s dynamics are different, worldwide,” he noted.

Localisation effort

Ryan informed, “We have an in-house design team that operates out of Bengaluru that designs all the facilities that are coming up in India to meet the local expectations of each city. This team also coordinates and collaborates with team members spread across the country to come out with entire design, architecture and building plans. We are continually localising our product and building local partnerships. For instance, we have roped in Chai Point in all locations. We are doing a partnership with Nature’s Basket by building it into our infrastructure. We are constantly building localised designs.”

WeWork has also localised the entire supply chain. All the furniture being used in the workspaces is made in India, avoiding any import dependency. The company is also helping local vendors and suppliers to grow their business, in the process.

Inclusive culture

The company follows global stringent guidelines to make the facilities suitable for all, including those with special needs. WeWork, he says, is an ‘inclusive brand’. The company wants that anybody can apply to be part of the workspace, including those with special abilities.

It also creates dedicated rooms for new mothers in its workspaces across locations. He observes, more and more people are spending time at work and the company wants to help not only women-members using the workspaces but also WeWork employees.

The company has also built a team, which is gender-balanced. On average, the company has 600 employees, with 50 per cent being women. At leadership/director level, women account for 40 per cent.

Global footprint

WeWork has 625 locations in over 125 cities across 33 countries, serving 6.09 lakh members. The company provides both standard and customised workspaces (mostly for enterprises). WeWork is aiming to serve both small businesses that are looking for 10 desks as well as large enterprises needing hundreds of desks.

“Globally, we had initially catered to mostly the startups and small and medium businesses (SMBs). Gradually, there is a shift towards enterprises with demand picking up in this segment. CFOs of member-companies are gaining by opting to operate from collaborative spaces as it offers economies of scale. Around 40 per cent of the global portfolio is contributed by enterprises (with over 1,000 employees) and the remaining 60 per cent being startups and SMBs. In India, enterprises account for 50 per cent of the clientele, which is a mix of domestic companies as well as multinationals,” Ryan added.

WeWork has built a significant presence in the US, with New York being the landmark city with 80 locations, besides San Francisco and Los Angeles. In addition to the US, the company has established significant base in Europe followed by China, India and Latin America, where market share is growing, showing signs of sustainable growth.

Data integrity

WeWork has a member app and network that helps members to create profiles, something similar to what they would create in social media platforms, which help them connect.

“This is a big value proposition for our company. This app helps members in getting access to vendor base in other countries. We are also protecting user data without compromising on data integrity. We have teams operating globally and in India that are working on data security,” he emphasised.

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