A Lesson from the Fall of WeWork


15 Nov, 2023

WeWork, the once-thriving co-working giant, recently announced it’s bankruptcy. WeWork's downfall is a cautionary tale for all businesses, but it also offers a valuable lesson for the future of work: flexibility is key.

It is worth noting that recent news primarily affects the US. However, there will of course be a lot of movement over the coming weeks and months with more announcements likely. Numerous reports are currently speculating whether this is a sign of the industry itself, but ultimately this isn't a reflection of the wider coworking market - just a unique case of a mismanaged company in its early days of operation.

The company's business model is based on the idea that people wanted to work in shared office spaces. WeWork offered a limited range of membership options, and allowed members to work from any WeWork location in the world. The company heavily invested in fixed-infrastructure and services in order to support its model which was arguably not flexible enough.

Despite mounting challenges for all organisations, there is a strong demand for flexible work. A recent survey by McKinsey found that 70% of employees want to be able to work remotely at least part of the time. Businesses that embrace flexibility will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent in the future and employees are increasingly looking for employers that offer them the ability to work from where and when they want.

There are a number of ways that businesses can embrace greater flexibility:

Offer choice. Hybrid or fully-remote may be the most obvious way to offer flexibility, but it is not the only one. Businesses can also offer flextime, compressed workweeks, and job sharing arrangements.

Provide employees with the tools and resources they need to work remotely effectively. This includes access to local workspaces, laptops, smartphones, and access to cloud-based software.

Create a culture that supports flexible work. This means setting clear expectations and establishing communication and collaboration tools that allow remote employees to work effectively.

By embracing flexibility, businesses can create a more productive workforce and make significant cost-savings. Employees who have the flexibility to work from where and when they want are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and be more productive. The future of work is flexible. Businesses that embrace flexibility will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent and succeed in the years to come.