Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey founded WeWork in 2010 with the vision of building office spaces that served as communities.
They have grown into a $US16 billion company with 110 facilities in 10 countries. Between 2015 and 2016, they grew from 40,000 to 90,000 members.
INSIDER Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Carlson sat down with Neumann and McKelvey at the Business Insider’s 2016 IGNITION conference to discuss the growth of WeWork and what makes it so successful.
Here are our top three takeaways from their discussion:
1. Office culture is changing. WeWork spaces have a certain atmosphere about them referred to as the “buzz.” Large companies are noticing this and asking WeWork for help in redesigning their offices in search of that buzz. Part of their redesign suggestions often involve taking executives out of the corner offices and putting employees by the windows instead. According to Neumann, there has been a recent culture shift in office settings.
“The right people don’t care about a corner office — they care about the culture, if you’re mission-driven, what you’re going to do to make the world a better place,” Neumann said. The buzz comes from an open office, where employees are interacting and sharing space.
2. Human connection is still important. A main tenant of WeWork since the start has been the importance of in-person connections.
“The experience we can have right here for one hour, or when you come to our office for 10 or 20 minutes, can be stronger than any phone call or video conference, and that concept is very important,” Neumann said. “As the world becomes a more digital place, we cannot forget about the human connection.”
WeWork strives to provide spaces that allow for those connections.
3. Technology should connect — not disconnect. Obviously, with a company growing so quickly and expanding around the world, keeping up those human connections is challenging. That’s why WeWork developed an app that connects all 90,000 members.
“WeWork is a platform that is powered by technology,” Neumann said. “Our members are running their entire experience with WeWork through the app.”
The app allows employees and members to communicate and work together from any distance.
“Because our platform and the systems we use are sophisticated enough, we can execute very quickly,” McKelvey said.
So what’s next for WeWork? The company announced on March 22 that it would be expanding to Vancouver. It is leasing five floors of the Bentall Three building, in an area it refers to as a lifestyle hub.
Needless to say, their expansion will be continuing in 2017.
“If you are open-minded and you let the universe come in, you never know where things might go,” Neumann said. “It’s been an amazing journey, but we are just getting started.”
Get ready for Business Insider IGNITION 2017!
Business Insider IGNITION 2016 featured great speakers from across the industry, including Barry Diller, Andrew Bosworth, Chuck Robbins, and Michelle Wilson. Over the next few months, we’ll be rolling out an all-star lineup for IGNITION 2017, and we can’t wait to hear what they have to share.
IGNITION 2017 will take place November 29-30 at the Time Warner Center in New York City. Right now we’re offering Extra-Early-Bird tickets and Group Tickets that will save you $US1,500. Don’t miss out!
Check out the full interview with the founders of WeWork (the segment starts at 3:08:25):
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