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WeWork’s focus is to drive co-working in Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai: Karan Virwani

WeWork has been reimagining and reshaping collaborative spaces that are moving in motion to fostering the workforce of today and the future beyond the conventional cubicle. The company has been designing dynamic workspaces that include custom buildouts, private offices, dedicated desk, hot desk – all of which are customizable, with 24x7 access. 

Present in 75 cities across 22 countries, 283 physical locations and with over 253,000+ members globally, WeWork works across geographies and time zones, transforming buildings into dynamic work environments. 

The company rolled out its first national campaign in May this year that seeks to reframe the concept of a workspace from being merely a place to conduct business to a space incubating business of all sizes that can learn, network, grow and expand. The three-month campaign pans digital, OOH, social media as well as involves engaging events in Mumbai, Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru. 

A social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is engaging audiences to reimagine their workspace by prompting them to share what they love about their work and go live from their work desks. The campaign also includes an engaging event with local artists who will take over WeWork buildings for an open house style event, where each one of them will have a space of their own to create a unique installation or an immersive experience. Additionally, a variety of huge creative hoardings are being installed across key locations in Mumbai, Delhi-NCR and Bangalore in these three months. 

In conversation with Adgully, Karan Virwani, CWeO (Chief Executive WeWork Officer), elaborates on the whole idea behind launching WeWork in India, expansion plans, campaign strategy and more. Excerpts: 

What is the core idea behind WeWork? What kind of research done before launching in India?
When I was first introduced to WeWork on an unforgettable trip to New York, what struck me most were the little details that combined to create this unbelievable environment that completely changed your work life, and eventually your lifestyle. From design details that encourage collaboration, to thoughtful community events, WeWork is changing the way people interact and work, to really maximise their productivity, creativity and simply their happiness every single day. 

Even though co-working is a more evolved concept in the West, shared economy is gaining massive traction in India. Consumers find collaborative spaces convenient and cost effective. The economic system of India is finally opening to the idea of an open, communicative, barrier-less office culture. The biggest challenge most freelancers, SMEs and even enterprises face is the high cost of establishing and maintaining full-fledged offices and challenges in flexibility with long-term leases make traditional workspace model unviable. Collaborative spaces like WeWork offer flexibility, access to community and culture that most organisations or individuals seek. 

How do you view the Indian market for the co-working ecosystem? How do you foresee this trend going forward?
India’s nascent co-working market is steeply growing towards “Future of Work” to meet today’s activity-based requirement. As per a JLL report, the co-working segment in India is set to reach approximately 500 centers by 2020 and the potential market size for the co-working segment across India currently stands in the range of 12-16 million. The maximum (nearly 70 per cent) business opportunity here lies with large corporate firms seeking alternative, activity-based workplaces to nurture their talent and further their business growth. The small, emerging business sector (~20 per cent) follows as the second demand group looking for hot desking opportunities at low cost shared workplaces, while professional freelancers and start-ups form the rest (~10 per cent) of the market demand. The industry will re-define the term co-working as the trend is moving towards beautiful, functional and well-designed spaces that encourage collaboration and create a sense of community. 

How WeWork is different from the other co-working spaces that we already have in India?
We are reimagining a traditional workspace and transforming buildings into dynamic environments for creativity, focus, and connection. Today, people are seeking community and purpose beyond their work life and WeWork is the response to the shift towards how people work and live – one focused on a movement towards meaning – by providing the environment for our creators to thrive in and ultimately connecting them to our 256,000+ strong member network in 274 locations, 74 cities and 22 countries. We are a global company that operates a local playbook in every new region we enter and India is one of our key markets.

We are going to great lengths to create communities – at the building, city, and country level. By building a vibrant neighborhood around WeWork locations, we help create opportunities for our ‘We’ community and the community from the surrounding neighbourhood to come together, while boosting local business and innovation. Our exclusive member app connects our 2 lakh+ global member community for any service/ business they might need locally or globally. We provide the space, services and community (both offline and online) for all our members to collaborate and grow their businesses to the maximum potential. WeWork takes care of all the basics – beautiful, functional space, wi-fi, office management, thereby freeing members to do what they love! 

Will WeWork look into Tier 2 markets as well? What will be the scalability and the challenges?
Currently, we have 8 locations across 3 cities and our focus is only to enhance member experience of over 10,000 members. We plan to provide many more members the space, community and services in Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai. 

What is the way forward for WeWork?
We are aspiring to broaden and share our belief of togetherness, push for innovation, culture and expand our community that will change the way people work and provide healthier environments for work and personal fulfillment. 

Could you share some insights on WeWork’s India-focussed campaign?
Our first campaign in India, “Reimagine Your Workspace”, signifies a reimagining and reshaping collaborative space that is moving in motion to foster the workforce of today and the future beyond the conventional cubicle. As WeWork continues making a mark in reimagining your office environment, the campaign will prove to be a game changer locally by showcasing our unique ‘We’ culture and how WeWork will reimagine your work and everyday life. Our campaign reflects who we are as a brand and what we offer and it will pave a new movement for welcoming people to become a part of a greater ‘We’ at WeWork. 

What was the brief shared with the agency for this campaign?
We wanted to reframe the way the workplace is perceived and at the same time allow everyone to reimagine their office environment. In addition, showcase the power of our community and how our members can network, learn and grow through our global community of over 250,000 members. Through this campaign, we want to showcase our unique ‘We’ culture and how WeWork will reinvent people’s work and everyday life.

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