I caught up with my friend Kakul Srivastava the other day. She’s now working a head of product for WeWork, the largest coworking company. WeWork has locations in nine US cities, and in the UK, Amsterdam, and Israel, and has over 15,000 members.
I knew a little about WeWork, because I had a membership for a few months two years ago when I was working in New York frequently. But when I logged in this morning, I found that the WeWork network has been dramatically improved. I bet that is Kakul’s doing.
But she hadn’t contacted me just to talk about the network: she had other news. WeWork is now supporting a new tier of membership, called WeWork Commons. For $45 per month, Commons members gain access to these benefits:
- the ability to reserve space — desks, conference rooms, or lounge space — in selected locations in New York, Boston, DC, San Francisco, LA, and Seattle.
- the opportunity to get discounted services, like health insurance, web hosting, payroll, gym membership, and others.
- membership in the WeWork community, enabled by the WeWork social network.
I was particularly interested in the health insurance option, because the Freelancers Union has notified its members that it will be getting out of the health insurance business, and as a result freelancers are scurrying to find alternatives (like me). This is another example of a for-fee business filling the economic gap that the government and other institutions — like unions and non-profits — might have filled in earlier times. I’ve written about the freelance worker platforms — like eLance-Odesk, or TaskRabbit — playing a similar role, too (see Let a thousand placeforms connect us, even as we loosen our connections, and Where are the boundaries in a rapidly changing world of business?).
Note that booking rooms and desks is integrated into the network tools.
The network has features that really help the community connect. As shown in the top post below, the ‘listing’ type of post is designed with specialized replies: ‘I know someone’ and ‘I can help’.
Note also that the network is trying to connect me to people with shared interests. The system supports @mentions, as well as direct messaging. You can see me chatting with Kakul, here. Events and listings are accessible by city and building, too.
I think going to enjoy using the network, even if I am only an occasional drop-in. It will make me feel connected to the larger WeWork community, and much more so than I did with the Freelancer’s Union.