Call this work? The & # 39; office & # 39; looks like a funky boutique hotel, with reception drinks, psychedelic velvet sofas for meetings and arcade games in the canteen to fool those looking for a cup of tea.
If you really need to concentrate, there are glass meeting rooms and private telephone booths.
As for the boss, he's the one who floats to your desk on your skateboard and gives everyone high fives when he goes.
If this sounds like something out of a Hollywood comedy, you clearly still have to taste the truly modern offices – designed by perhaps the most successful new company in the world.
Adam Neumann (center) and Miguel McKelvey (right) are the entrepreneurs behind WeWork, a New York-based company that offers shared office spaces for companies. They are depicted with Mark Ronson, left
The brainchild of two eccentric but passionate billionaire entrepreneurs, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, simply wants to change the way the whole world works, at least for those who stand behind a desk.
Started from scratch, just ten years ago, it has already been valued for a stunning £ 40 billion. Amazingly it is the largest tenant in Manhattan and in London it is the second only for the British government.
WeWork also has a large new office & # 39; campus & # 39; in Liverpool Street in London and is building a new base in Waterloo. The latter has skateboard & # 39; halfpipe & # 39; driveways in the foyer and offers free beer and prosecco.
Last week we learned that even the fat old world of High Street banking caught the WeWork bug. HSBC plans to accommodate more than 1,000 of its London staff in the flexible workspace of the American company in Waterloo.
That is a lot of free fizz, possibly in the esophagus of our financial services.
How did it become so successful so quickly? The idea is simple.
While new forms of technology continue to exist, traditional work patterns become superfluous. Today, office meetings often take place at the touch of a computer and there is a growing market for employees who just need a little more office space than a traditional office structure.
That is what WeWork comes for. Because what it does is rent large chunks of office space and then divide it into clear glass walls. The company then subleases it to companies that rent what office space they need and share the quirky common areas such as bars, table tennis and those arcade games.
This is the key to the success of WeWork, a concept known as & # 39; co-working & # 39; – promoting a collaborative environment between tenants and taking advantage of the emergence of digital giants.
Neumann calls WeWork & # 39; & # 39; the world's first physical social network & # 39 ;. And his ambition is to become a global phenomenon.
The company slogan is & # 39; Make a Life, Not Just a Living & # 39 ;. With minimal space between desks and even deliberately narrow corridors and stairs to force people to communicate physically, the tenants are encouraged to build a sense of community.
Initially, the trendy image appealed to small businesses – new businesses, high-tech start-ups, something like that. But it is so breathtaking that it has 12,000 employees and 466,000 & # 39; members & # 39; as it wants to call its customers – in more than 100 cities in 28 countries. And the ambition does not stop here.
If you enjoy working so much, why would you leave? WeWork launched a dormitory called WeLive in 2017.
WeLive is located in converted office buildings and is populated by people who often work together. WeLive offers small and beautiful studios with communal facilities and daily activities – from yoga to comedy evenings – to millennials that are not yet ready to live completely independently.
Behind this vision of a new utopia lies a story of two makers who, at first glance, seemed to be no different: while one started a company selling accessories for women, the other grew up in a commune.
Yet together they have become & # 39; the world's most successful – and zaniest – project developers.
With its flowing mane of black hair and passion for surfing, co-founder Adam Neumann fits perfectly into the picture as the kind of crazy but extremely self-conscious entrepreneur who has pushed through such an idea.
Neumann's wife, Rebekah Paltrow Neumann (shown together in New York), is a cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow and one of the few female executives of WeWork.
After all, he went through his office on his skateboard.
He is only 40 and estimates that he is worth £ 3.2 billion. As co-founder Miguel McKelvey, he grew up in a cooperative. Neumann spent his first years on a kibbutz in Israel, while Mr. McKelvey, an architect, was raised by a collective of five single mothers in Oregon.
Both are entrepreneurs with a history of bizarre – and failed – ideas. Mr McKelvey moved to Tokyo, where he set up a website called & # 39; English, baby! & # 39; who used lyrics from pop songs as a learning tool to learn English.
Neumann's first venture was women's shoes with folding heels; his second was Krawlers, a series of baby clothes with built-in knee pads. Neither of the brain waves started.
His wife, Rebekah Paltrow Neumann, is a cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow and one of the few female executives of WeWork. They have five children and are close friends of property developer Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump, daughter of the president.
As someone might imagine with someone so grumpy of such brightly colored capitalists as & # 39; Javanka & # 39 ;, Neumann's hippie worldview goes so far.
He describes WeWork as a & # 39; capitalist kibbutz & # 39; where weakness is not tolerated.
Although the company is based in New York, it smells like the classic Silicon Valley in its hard-hearted drive for profit hidden under a mountain of feel-good, save-the-planet waffles.
Neumann has been accused of turning his company into something that approaches a business community – just like the late founder Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos of Amazon.
He certainly has a preference for pretentious and meaningless statements that – if he is not so successful now – are treated with utter ridicule.
Last year, for example, he solemnly told his assembled staff: & # 39; There are 150 million orphans in the world. We want to solve this problem and give a new family: the WeWork family. & # 39; In January, he told them that the company had one mission: & # 39; Raise awareness of the world & # 39 ;.
He was not kidding when he recently said that his business should be as large as possible because & when countries shoot at each other, I want them to come to me & # 39; He also managed to keep a tight face when he intoned: & We are here to change the world. Nothing less than that interests me. . & # 39;
Such statements about the high printer have not prevented some of the richest people in the world from investing in WeWork.
The Japanese venture capitalist Masayoshi Son once gave Neumann 12 minutes to give him a tour of WeWork headquarters. It was enough to convince him to invest £ 3.5 billion on the spot, and to tell Neumann that he thought the company could be worth a few hundred billion dollars & # 39 ;.
Neumann certainly seems to believe that there is no global challenge outside of him. He boasts that he works 20 hours a day and sometimes holds business meetings starting at 2 o'clock. A huge photo of him surfing the Executive Conference Room at WeWork's New York headquarters.
His innovations include refusing staff to submit food costs if they ate meat and attend them weekly. Thank God. They are team building sessions on Monday where everyone took crashing photos of tequila. The New York headquarters even offers free astrological measurements to staff.
In the meantime, attendance is mandatory at the annual staff summer camp – usually held in New York State but moved to a park outside London in 2017 – to which employees from all over the world fly.
New Agey events include yoga, drumming, leaf printing and ax throwing. & # 39; It was just so much of everything & # 39 ;, a former manager told the New York magazine.
Employees must also attend the WeWork annual business conference held this year in Los Angeles. No meeting rooms and PowerPoint presentations for them. The raw rock band that played the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and rapper Diddy and actor Ashton Kutcher were sent in to announce the winners of the personnel competition prizes.
There is only one fly in the ointment of such & # 39; n exuberance. Despite all the hype, WeWork made a loss of £ 1.5 billion last year. Some say that the company, like so many in the technical world, is overvalued and on its way to a painful settlement.
After all, when the company's chief technology officer describes a typical WeWork office as & # 39; an Amazon warehouse with much more soul & # 39 ;, there must be a limit to the number of people who ever want to work in one.
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