WeWork presents co-working model to Bellevue Downtown Association

The future of work culture could be changing from cubicles to community, according to co-working space company WeWork.

Gina Phillips, the Pacific Northwest Lead for the company, presented her company to the Bellevue Downtown Association last week.

“We want to be more than office space,” she said. “We want to promote serendipitous collisions.”

WeWork, a New York-based company, has more than 100 locations around the world in dozens of cities. Earlier this year, it announced it was moving to Bellevue in 2017. Doors are scheduled to open in March.

The company began as a shared space for small companies to have appealing locations (in Manhattan, San Francisco or Los Angeles) while not paying premium office space rates. Phillips said that as the company has grown, the lower overhead remained a draw, but the community space has become more of a deal maker.

Patrick Bannon, president of the Bellevue Downtown Association, said the company was changing the paradigm.

“They are redefining the concept of the work environment,” he said, before launching into Phillips’ accolades. “She is committed to the start-up community, and is a 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 finalist.”

In the 75,000-square-feet WeWork has leased from Lincoln Square in Bellevue over three floors, employers will be able to rent designed office space or work in the community area with other startups or established businesses.

Phillips reminded the mostly baby-boomer crowd at the association’s breakfast on Dec. 13 that by 2020, half of the workforce will be millennials.

“People want remote opportunities and the ability to go into business for themselves,” she said. “And we have a craving for physical proximity.”

Co-working spaces are coming into vogue in the Puget Sound area. WeWork has had a location in Seattle since 2014, and Bellevue’s extraSlice is a co-working space for tech companies in Eastgate. WeWork has locations in Portland, Atlanta, Denver, Beijing, Montreal, tel Aviv and Amsterdam, among many other locations. It currently has three in Seattle.

Phillips said that part of the appeal of having a membership with WeWork is being able to use offices around the world to meet potential clients or investors.

In her presentation, she showed survey data collected by the Harvard Business Review regarding co-working spaces. According to that data, 72 percent of people in co-working spaces saw an increase in incomes over traditional offices, 75 percent reported they were more productive, 80 percent had increased the size of their business network and 92 percent increased the size of their social circle.

It is these reasons Phillips said WeWork is on the cutting edge of work culture. Millennials don’t have quite the work-life balance as previous generations, and so by providing things like yoga classes, happy hours, a cafe and forums, it becomes a more appealing place to work, according to WeWork.

But traditional employers are looking into co-working spaces as well, Phillips said. Coca Cola, Target, GE, Starbucks, Nike and Pfizer are just a few of the huge corporations that have satellite offices in WeWork spaces around the world.

As the co-working space continues to grow, it could potentially change how developers see office space, and for booming Downtown Bellevue, that could be a big deal.

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