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As Demand For D.C. Flex Space Soars, WeWork Sets Its Sights On Bethesda

An example of a WeWork space.

The pandemic has drastically changed how people work. In early 2020, millions of Americans who spent their entire careers commuting to an office every day suddenly found themselves forced to work from home. Now, as the situation surrounding Covid-19 continues to change, many are wondering what the future of work will look like. 

One thing about that future that has become clear is that companies are rethinking their office needs. Many businesses are switching to a hybrid model where employees come into the office only a few days a week, which means their employers may not need to spend money on thousands of square feet of desk space. Many workers still crave in-person interactions and need a place to collaborate, however, which is where flexible space providers like WeWork can step in. 

“We’re seeing a lot more large companies utilizing our spaces as a more flexible option for their employees,” said Suzie Russell, WeWork's area director of the Mid-Atlantic. “We’re seeing increased demand in the D.C. area market as flexibility and hybrid become standard requirements in office space, including in more suburban markets like Bethesda, where we’ll open our first location this spring.” 

Also referred to as coworking spaces, flexible workspaces offer a level of flexibility that a traditional office lease cannot, which can be very appealing to companies that are unsure of how many employees will be coming in each day. This is one of the reasons why CBRE predicted in its 2022 U.S. Real Estate Market Outlook that the shift to hybrid work will lead tenants to consider more flexible office options. 

WeWork has seen the demand for flex space rise across the globe, including in D.C., where the company saw bookings through WeWork All Access rise by a 17% month-over-month average from January to December 2021. Through WeWork All Access, users pay a flat monthly rate of $299 plus applicable tax, which gives them access to many WeWork locations across the globe. 

According to Russell, preliminary WeWork All Access memberships across the globe increased to 45,000 in December 2021, up from 41,000 a month prior. The company also released another new product offering, WeWork On Demand, which allows users, including nonmembers, to book workspace starting at $29 per day and $10 per hour, plus applicable tax, for meeting rooms. 

“WeWork On Demand bookings increased by an average nearly 25% month-over-month in D.C. from January to December 2021,” Russell said. “D.C. is one of our fastest-growing areas.”

In response to growing demand across the greater D.C. area, WeWork has leased its first space in Bethesda. The company now occupies three floors in The Wilson, part of The Wilson and The Elm development, a three-tower, 940K SF luxury mixed-use complex near Bethesda Row.

“There's been a demand for more coworking in the Bethesda area,” Russell said. “We have a heavy presence in D.C. and Northern Virginia, and one location in Maryland in College Park, but we really saw that there was a need for a location in Bethesda, and this was the perfect spot for us.” 

The new space encompasses 60K SF, which will be room for just over 1,000 members. Russell said that WeWork has built the space to accommodate companies of all sizes including enterprise-level spaces, larger offices and smaller office options. Additionally, WeWork The Wilson includes dedicated space for WeWork All Access and WeWork On Demand users. 

“As we’ve seen demand for hybrid work rise, we’ve seen many members who live in the suburbs work a few days a week from their WeWork offices in D.C., and then the other days from our more suburban locations near home, like in Alexandria,” Russell said. “The flexibility afforded with a WeWork membership truly supports a hybrid model, and we anticipate seeing many members similarly split their time between D.C. locations and our new Bethesda space.” 

Along with access to the boardrooms, meeting rooms, desks and phone booths located on the WeWork floors, members will have access to many of the development’s amenities including the gym, parking garage, bike storage, roof deck and outdoor event space.

The Wilson and Elm development is home to a new Purple Line transit stop that will serve downtown Bethesda when it opens — it is also directly adjacent to the new southern entrance to WMATA’s Red Line station. The Capital Crescent Trail, a 7-mile long, shared-use rail trail that runs from Georgetown to Bethesda, is also right around the corner. 

As people increasingly return to offices, safety and sanitation are at the top of their minds. In response, over the past two years, WeWork has spent millions of dollars to adapt to new safety needs and standards including heightening cleaning measures, implementing disinfectant procedures in common areas, and changing how HVAC systems and airflow are monitored in its spaces. For its effort, WeWork has received a certification from Bureau Veritas, an internationally recognized testing, inspection and certification organization that conducted an independent audit of WeWork’s Covid-19 health and safety measures, response plans and space modifications.  

Russell said the company is excited about the opening of this new space not only for the Bethesda residents who will now have access to a new WeWork location, but for members in the surrounding D.C. area who want to use their WeWork All Access membership to try something new. 

“Our D.C. and Arlington members, some of whom may live in Bethesda, now have another option,” Russell said. “For today’s workers, it’s all about flexibility, and this is a great way for employers to offer more.”  

This article was produced in collaboration between WeWork and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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