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Contributor(s): Corinne Bernstein

WeWork is a company that rents office space to startups, small businesses and large enterprises. Some real estate experts have referred to WeWork’s offerings as "office space as a service" or "micro-office space." The New York-based WeWork got its start in 2010 renting out shared office space – whether to provide temporary quarters or remote office/branch office (ROBO) space to companies -- but more recently has begun renting entire floors to larger companies.

WeWork’s business model take advantage of people analytics and data collected about employee productivity requirements and work habits. In addition to applying this information to its own sites, the company uses that data to provide enterprise customers with new products, including such things as custom office space, software for booking conference rooms and software for analyzing data about  how people are using WeWork resources. Large enterprises like Microsoft and IBM have been using WeWork in areas where they need fewer employees, but many of those companies are now tying out WeWork to manage entire buildings for them.

WeWork leases floors of buildings and entire structures, often in major metropolitan areas with prime real estate, and makes them attractive with modern with amenities such as Wi-Fi, desks, conference rooms, printing stations, couches, custodial services and a reception area. Those leasing from WeWork have access to communal rooms that look like lounges with snack bars and games. The company has spread its reach beyond the United States, through a partnership with Softbank in Japan. The company also has a Chinese unit and purchased a competitor in Singapore. In addition, WeWork has expanded its presence to the United Kingdom, Israel, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Korea, Australia and the Netherlands.

In October 2017, retailer Hudson’s Bay announced plans to sell Lord & Taylor’s flagship department store in New York to WeWork, which will use the building for new headquarters, co-working space and a smaller version of the retail store. The changes to the iconic building, which will be completed after the 2018 holiday season, reflect tectonic shifts in the retail sector, as brick-and-mortar businesses transition to more online sales in what some media outlets refer to as the retail apocalypse.

This was last updated in November 2017

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