The past few years have seen the concept of workspaces being redefined. Conventional, individual-centric cubicles and offices are no longer considered optimal to cater to the demands of globalization, which requires flexibility as well as fluidity in communication and transfer of information.
The concept of the coworking space has been gaining traction in the past decade, uniting people from different professions into one shared space, encouraging collaboration while still providing space for independent activities. Initially popular mostly among freelancers, independent professionals and entrepreneurs, the coworking concept has now been adopted by numerous mega-corporations around the world, although it is still more closely identified with the start-up culture.
One provider of such space is WeWork. Founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York, WeWork is a platform for creators, providing members around the world with space, community, and services through both physical and virtual offerings. It has 287 physical locations in 77 cities and 23 countries around the world, employing more than 7,000 people globally. Over 43,000 companies and more than 268,000 members are now based at a WeWork location, with member companies ranging from start-ups to household names including Dell, KPMG, GE, Microsoft, and Samsung.
AmCham Indonesia recently moved into WeWork’s Jakarta space in Revenue Tower, SCBD.
As part of our new relationship, Turochas “T” Fuad, WeWork’s Managing Director for Southeast Asia, explained to us the coworking model that WeWork has adopted, how it assists companies to transition from the conventional to the coworking workspace, and its aims in the Indonesian market.
Fuad founded Spacemob, a coworking startup in Singapore in 2016. It was acquired by WeWork in 2017 as part of its Southeast Asia expansion plan. Prior to Spacemob, he founded two other start-ups, WUF Networks and Travelmob, as well as holding senior roles in Southeast Asia and Asia Pacific for Yahoo! and Skype.
AmCham Indonesia: Could you explain the coworking space concept – what are the pros and cons compared to the conventional structure?
T Fuad: In WeWork, we see ourselves going beyond the coworking concept or space provider. Our goal is to create an innovative culture and encourage human connection and creativity. The main thing that differentiates us from the conventional office structure is our community-based platform that allows members to connect with other freelancers, entrepreneurs, and companies of all sizes. Our R&D and design team study the day-to-day needs of businesses in different markets and geographies and how people interact, while our buildings create physical and digital places where ideas can be exchanged and creativity can thrive.
How can WeWork assist companies/tenants like AmCham, which are interested in making the transition from conventional to coworking space, in terms of facilitation and adjustment to community workspace culture?
We are efficient and smart about the way we design our spaces and we do so with life, work and play in mind. By offering space, community and flexibility, WeWork enables corporations to meet the needs of the modern workforce, while increasing productivity and reducing costs. Through members like AmCham, we have been providing multinational companies seeking to expand to Asia a home base that can help them attract talent in Asia and navigate the local landscape, collaborate with other creative thinkers and business leaders in the region, and grow. With this being a symbiotic relationship among our members, no other platform has the global scale, localized community experiences and support that WeWork has been able to create and offer.
Why is WeWork interested in the Indonesian market?
As part of our aggressive growth into the Southeast Asia region, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous market and this serves as a huge growth market with a huge pool of vibrant creators ranging from startups to SMEs and entrepreneurs. WeWork spaces are located in the heart of Jakarta and will enable entrepreneurs and corporates to plug right into Jakarta’s bustling hive of economic activity, while catapulting them to tap into a multitude of local and international business opportunities.
What can WeWork offer to the Indonesian market in the face of local competitors, fellow multinational competitors and companies that have adopted the coworking concept internally?
Again, we don’t consider ourselves as a coworking space or see others as competitors, as we are a global platform of creators that helps people to create a life, not just a living. Nonetheless, we believe what differentiates us from other workspace platforms is our aim to re-design work culture as well as rewriting traditional norms of workspace culture and environment. While we’re a global company, we operate with a local playbook. We spend a lot of time engaging with our communities long before we open the doors of a new location, and start operations preparation early and listen and learn about local business culture so that we can make sure that we get it right.
Any plans to expand to other cities in Indonesia?
With Indonesia’s unique blend of entrepreneurs and corporates, we expect to see our membership across all industry and size segments grow significantly in the coming years. We are incredibly excited to continue our expansion not only in Indonesia, but also across Southeast Asia, and we look forward to providing many more members with the space, community, and services they need to create their life’s work.
What are the most memorable testimonies you’ve heard from tenants about WeWork?
One of our tenants in Jakarta, Bizzy, occupies two floors of the WeWork MSIG Tower with 645 desks and beyond as it continues its growth across Jakarta. It mentioned flexibility as one of the highlights of being a WeWork member. WeWork’s space and community also helps businesses of all sizes attract and retain the best people, which will ultimately help Bizzy attract the best employees in Jakarta. Meanwhile, WeWork’s intentional and thoughtful approach to space allows us to bring people together within our spaces, boost employee engagement and efficiency, facilitate collaborative learning and inspire innovation, making work a place people want to be.