WeWork embarks on a post-Covid-19 world

The pandemic is expected to create a long-lasting impact on the economy and enterprises while rapidly changing how businesses will operate

by LYDIA NATHAN/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

CO-WORKING space providers are in uncharted waters right now, from being the go-to for major start-ups around the world to being back at the drawing board, re-strategising after the Covid-19 pandemic cut its growth short.

Across the globe, providers are working to make spaces safe again. American-grown start-up WeWork believes that there is still light for the industry after the pandemic ends. WeWork South-East Asia and Korea MD Turochas Fuad said in such an unprecedented time, space has evolved into a crucial need for businesses to continue.

“This is where WeWork steps in to provide additional support for enterprises. We are seeing an increase in proactive conversations from our members and non-members in better understanding the importance and relevance of space-as-a-service as part of their strategies,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

He said for many businesses, the priority lies in the speed and scalability in securing spaces, especially since the situation has evolved so quickly.

“As companies recognise the growing importance of having flexible workplace arrangements, conversations have also elevated to long-term and more comprehensive future-proofing business strategy as opposed to simply reacting to the current situation,” he added.

Turochas said, however, the pandemic is expected to create a long-lasting impact on the economy and enterprises while rapidly changing how businesses will operate.

“There will be a greater emphasis on operational and resource efficiency, where flexible workspaces are proving to be crucial for larger enterprises, given the ability to scale the amount of space needed,” he said.

Turochas added that this sudden pandemic has shown the need for organisations to take a conservative approach when it comes to operational needs like flexible workspaces.

“We see a post-Covid-19 world bringing about further reinventions to the future of work, as more companies see the vital need for flexible work arrangements. While working from home may be a good option for some, it is not a realistic long-term solution.

“For many companies, it will be about having the space to scale and mobilise their workforce in such situations and it is about the ease and convenience for their employees to plug and work,” Turochas said.

He added that in accordance with the Movement Control Order (MCO), WeWork suspended internal and member events, while implementing a work-from-home policy for its own employees.

“In Kuala Lumpur, WeWork Equatorial Plaza and WeWork Mercu 2 have only allowed access via key card for essential members, but with strengthened on-site cleanliness and disinfection measures.

“Our priority is to protect our members and employees, while maintaining as close to normal operations as possible. In certain circumstances, we may close buildings or recommend members do not come in,” Turochas said.

WeWork has seen incredible growth in South-East Asia, establishing 34 buildings in less than three years across the region and 10 new locations in Grade A buildings.

South-East Asia has been a key segment of growth for the brand and the team has successfully driven its own operations.

“Prior to the pandemic outbreak, there was a healthy demand for our offerings and an increasing enterprise sector as part of our diverse local community. In Singapore, we successfully reached close to 90% and more occupancy across most of our locations, which also allowed us to continue to source and identify new buildings to meet our demands,” he said.

Meanwhile, the brand will continue working towards the future with its members’ needs in mind.

Last year, a clear global five-year plan was drawn up to focus on profitability and positive cashflow.

“The plan enables us to deliver an exceptional member experience and profitable growth through six core pillars which have always been in line with our South-East Asia directive.

“We are going to continue to strategically grow in South-East Asia with more locations, optimising our current solid portfolio and to evolve from a real estate services platform to a turnkey business solution 2.0 platform,” he said.

Turochas added that WeWork’s strategy in Malaysia will focus on staying relevant, realistic and recognised.

“We will look at operations and assets with a view to improving our building performance and optimising our entire real estate portfolio. This means we will continue to grow in a smart and profitable way by building the right model for each market.

“We will continue to focus on being as relevant as we can,” he said.

WeWork has more than 693,000 members and 828 locations across 149 cities in 38 countries. This also looks set to reach over one million memberships in 1,200 buildings by 2020 globally.