WeWork's Rapid Expansion Includes Seattle
Shared office space firm WeWork has ambitiously expanded around the world and Seattle is no exception. Globally, the company has more than 400,000 members and 425 physical locations in 100 cities and 27 countries. The company adds an average of 1.5M SF every month.
In March alone, WeWork opened 19 new locations and expanded 19 existing locations in 14 countries and 29 cities.
Locally, the company grew from four locations at the end of 2017 to 12 today. By the end of the year, WeWork expects to have 22 locations in the Seattle and Bellevue area. The coworking giant recently secured four new leases including an entire building on Capitol Hill.
“There is a lot of competition for real estate and flexible use of real estate,” WeWork Vice President and General Manager Gina Phillips said. “We are being very aggressive here. Moreso than other markets in the U.S.”
She credits the company’s local growth in part to the city’s strong inflow of tech talent.
“People are choosing to live in Seattle, and then find work,” she said.
The high-talent workforce is creating a critical mass that is pulling startup companies into the city. Those startups find office-sharing space more affordable and flexible. Many of the companies that have evolved beyond the startup phase continue to use WeWork’s services, Phillips said.
In 2017 WeWork was focused mostly on providing space for smaller companies and startups. Today, WeWork offers space that meets the demand of companies of all sizes, from one-person operations to Fortune 500 companies — 30% of Fortune 500 companies are WeWork members, Phillips said.
Part of the appeal is that, by sharing office space, an enterprise member could have more than 160 potential companies with which to collaborate. The coworking environment creates an industry synergy that larger companies are finding valuable.
In the Pacific Northwest, enterprise companies make up over 80% of total WeWork membership. For example, Sonos has space in the firm’s Holyoke Building, Pinterest is at 1099 Stewart and Walmart Labs innovation team is at the Power + Light building, which are all WeWork offices.
Currently, the company is focusing expansion in the Seattle and Bellevue market, but as the demand moves into the secondary markets, WeWork will follow suit.
In the Pacific Northwest, the company looks for a diverse portfolio of buildings, from historic landmarks to new, modern architecture. The local WeWork game plan includes renovating and occupying entire buildings to meet the demands of entrepreneurial startup companies.
“We generally look for Class-A office space,” Phillips said. “We love buildings with a story and we do amazing things to respect the historic foundation of a building, while adding freshness and a brightness.”
WeWork’s Offices on 4th Avenue building has exposed brick, recycled windows and hardwood floors, while its Holyoke Building location has more of “stylish grandma’s living room,” she said.
Often, WeWork members will book meeting spaces in buildings depending on what type of space they feel their client will most enjoy, Phillips said.
For the most part, WeWork’s member companies look for buildings that have outdoor spaces, bike parking, car parking and showers.