The Chelsea, Manhattan WeWork headquarters was overflowing with energy from the moment I walked in. Bikes, skateboards and inspirational quotes dotted the walls, while neon “Do what you love” signs reminded me of the type of work that happens here. From the simple digital registration process for guests, to the array of hanging screens supporting a sea of product designers in the open concept, activity-based office, it was clear that this was a living case study as they design the workplaces of the future. A rapid growth, global startup in a league of its own, with 34 locations in the New York tristate area alone, and preparing to double its footprint and member base yet again in the next 12 months.
After cozying up in the vintage leather couches begging visitors to enjoy the endless coffee, I chatted with many of the product managers, and visiting partners angling to find an engaged new audience to connect to their latest products and services. This was social networking at its best, a combination of physical space and digital tools like the WeWork app that emphasized culture and random collisions by design, giving members and by extension its employees, a great place to work.
“We are building beautiful, flexible and functional environments for our employees and our members to focus on doing their best work” remarked David Fano, Chief Product Officer of WeWork. “With Microsoft, we were looking for a partner who could provide a scalable platform to empower our teams, collaborate and generate better ideas. Surface and the Microsoft stack lets us focus on our business, our members and ultimately become a part of our work. From the pen, to power and tablet flexibility, Surface has provided the tools for a whole new way to work.”
Over the past few months, WeWork has begun deploying Surface Pro 4, Surface Book and Surface Studio to employees, along with Office 365, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams, the new chat based workspace. Additionally, they have been piloting Surface Hub for group collaboration. The results have been so impactful for the hundreds of designers, architects and product developers reporting up through David, that he decided to make Surface Book their standard issue device for new hires in the product team.
“We have always offered employees a choice of devices, but with Surface Book and the environment of Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and Skype for Business, we have powerful tools to communicate and create more effectively.”
Created on Surface, Designed for You
During our time, together we walked through a brand new WeWork construction site in the middle of Manhattan, where planning and design was happening on Surface devices. The enthusiastic team reviewed the progress for the pending grand opening, ready to envelop a new wave of hungry entrepreneurs. They shared their love of the combined power and flexibility of Surface Book, detaching the tablet with discrete graphics to run powerful design applications one minute, then using the pen and the camera to capture, markup and share with the team back at the office in real time.
Over the course of the construction project, the design team led unpredictable days calling for in-office and site visit meetings, with rapid transition between Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Autodesk AutoCAD and Revit on the same device without slowing down. Surface Book accelerated every workload.
Surface Hub: Connecting Around the World
WeWork is growing, and they need tech that can keep up with the pace of the business. With locations in over 41 cities (as of publish date) including London, Shanghai, and soon Toronto, global expansion is bringing a new set of challenges for WeWork employees. David and his management team have already become road warriors that need access to their colleagues and work at any time, from nearly anywhere. With Surface, David can make critical real-time decisions and work with his team or partners visually via Skype for Business, then share notes in real time via OneNote. With less time spent starting meetings, or saving and sharing content, David relishes the time spent with his young, growing family.
More to Come…
For many small businesses, WeWork has encapsulated that perfect blend of culture and space, de-leveraging entrepreneurs from lengthy, inflexible leases to focus on growing their brand and connecting to people that matter. WeWork is currently considering plans to roll out specific collaboration rooms built around the Surface Hub and Surface Studio to extend the benefits that David and team are realizing, to an ecosystem of connected global rooms.
For a company that currently offers immersive culture and space for their members, the future is bright with holistic thinking around thoughtful technology integration. Check out one of their many offices in the growing global footprint at WeWork.com, do what you love and live up to your greatest potential.
*Updated for accuracy