Live in a Box, Think Outside of It, With WeWork’s Co-Living Enterprise
Work-life balance tipped the scale long ago, with WeLive, the new terminology has become "work-life integration"
Your laundry is done for you, your meals are cooked, your house is cleaned and you get chauffeured around when needed. The catch? You have to live at work. In service of the next ‘Big Idea,’ your time is too precious a resource to devote elsewhere argues WeWork, a $10 billion USD enterprise reshaping the way startups operate with the induction of its “co-living” vision.
Granting employees 360 square feet ‘micro apartments’ at $1600 a month, across 47 locations and within 16 cities, the luxurious innovation hubs accommodate for a cramped lifestyle with quilted leather couches, micro-roasted coffee and craft beer, and of course, an open floor plan for collaborative feats and networking. While WeWork’s communal living space structure, branded ‘WeLive,’ may raise quite a few brows, others see fruit-bearing potential in eliminating travel time and expenses, barriers in communication with colleagues and higher-ups, and the financial burdens associated with renting an office—or not-so living—space.
WeLive’s 24/7 work environment favors the workaholics among us—those engaged not just in materializing their startup, but creating the next Facebook of sorts. While the concept of co-living is not a new one, implemented already by the likes of Neuehouse, The Caravanserai, The Canopy, and Common, WeLive is arguably set to be a top competitor in the market given its funding and outreach.
One subset of entrepreneurs, Millenials, are particularly piqued by the notion of shared living and work spaces given their trademarked value-driven pursuit to ‘change the world’; it is incredibly likely that many co-living players will be fresh-out-of-college kids in suits with ember in their pupils and a strategy for lateral movement.
In its current state, co-living has been subject to some harsh critique, branding the lifestyle as ‘out-of-college’ dorming.
“You’re like the least prepared person in the world. People spend $100,000 thinking they will parlay it to $100 million and ‘live like Zuck,’ but it doesn’t work that way, f*&#%r,” an unnamed CEO told the BuzzFeed staff in an interview. Still, WeWork CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann believes in his co-living vision, and is joined by many other voices rejecting the notion that the space is too cramped.
“Work-life balance is trying to limit one or the other, but people just don’t think that way anymore. People are really integrating. They want work to feel enjoyable.”
Indeed, dual-purposed glass walls that double as clear whiteboards at day and blackened privacy screens at night for steaming Netflix and falling asleep prevent rooms from feeling like scattered fishbowls. The integration of screening rooms, arcades, shuffleboards, bocce ball and foosball in certain locations serve to enrich the lifestyle aspect of the business, if not create it altogether.
While multiple companies have failed in maintaining an effective co-living business model and have since shut down, WeWork doesn’t look like it’s leaving us any time soon. Only the future will tell what the company has in store, and whether the concept of living where you work will not only pan out, but cement a new norm in and of itself.