WeWork is one of the poster children for a company which is negatively impacted by Covid-19. Packing a large amount of people into tight spaces was the business model and as little as three-months ago, the company’s locations were packed with startups and other companies who valued a flexible, shared workplace.
Since Covid-19 however, many critics have said they are in deep trouble. “You couldn’t pick a company that was more impacted by Covid-19 than WeWork,” said John McClain, portfolio manager for US investment firm Diamond Hill Capital Management.
The company was in trouble before the crisis thanks to questionable management decisions by founder Adam Neumann.
Rather than focus on the past financial issues, we think it is important to present how WeWork is changing as a result of Covid-19 to make its customers and employees feel safe.
We recently wrote Top 24 Covid-19 Changes Companies Should Make To Increase Safety And Reduce Liability and we are happy to see WeWork taking many of our ideas to heart.
Prioritizing personal space: By implementing professional distancing standards and strategically placed behavioral and wayfinding signage, members can collaborate in person with more comfort and peace of mind.
Air quality is a major issue in all confined spaces where people gather. WeWork has engaged Arup a global engineering consulting firm to improve indoor air quality.
De-densified lounges: Capacity will be modified with seat-to-seat distancing—reducing occupancy.
Single-occupancy work nooks: Capacity limited to one person per booth.
Reconfigured meeting rooms: New capacity guidelines provide more space per person.
Enhanced phone booth cleaning schedules: Frequent cleanings complemented by dedicated wipe dispensers.
“As a first-mover in the industry, WeWork has been a leader in fostering innovation and collaboration in the workplace for over a decade. Today, with over 600,000 members around the world, we are once again in a position to redefine what the future of work looks like as we face the new realities of a post COVID-19 world. While so much has changed—WeWork’s promise to deliver exceptional, innovative, and safe spaces, has not.”
CEO of WeWork
We are glad to see WeWork adapting quickly and although the company’s model must change, things may not be as bad as they seem,.
When workers do start to return to physical offices, managers and owners will need to make some decisions on what makes the most sense for them.
All companies need to allocate more square footage per worker and they will likely reconsider their working arrangements. Especially since many of them have taken a huge revenue hit as a result of the pandemic.
Allowing workers to work from their homes and come in occasionally for meetings may be the norm. Even then, these meetings will have to be socially distanced for some time. Perhaps until there is a treatment or vaccine.
In such a scenario, a shared workspace makes amazing financial sense. Assuming people are comfortable going to the workspace of course.
In this time of uncertainty we believe WeWork is doing what it can to instill the confidence customers and employees need to make them comfortable coming to work.
There is more to do as we have written before but this is a good start.