The concept of coworking made its way to Dallas from San Francisco in 2008, when CoHabitat launched in Uptown Dallas. In 2012, the trend really caught on, with a number of coworking spaces setting up shop across the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. In January, Dallas will achieve another important coworking space milestone. WeWork, one of the most prominent flexible office space providers in the country, will open the doors of its first Dallas location next month.
Dallas area entrepreneurs and startup teams have enjoyed the benefits of coworking spaces for several years. For many individuals who don’t want to work out of Starbucks, and who don’t want a full fledged commercial office space lease, coworking is the perfect fit. WeWork takes the familiar coworking space model and enhances it with its secret sauce, purposeful design that promotes collaboration.
WeWork is a data-driven company that uses the observed behavioral patterns of its members to drive collaboration at its business centers. With over 100 WeWork spaces across the globe, they have massive amounts of coworking data to analyze and learn from.
Adam Wacenske, WeWork’s general manager of the southern region, gave Launch DFW a hard hat tour of its Uptown Dallas location that’s still under construction. Pointing out the grand staircase that was being built to connect the 7th and 8th floors, Wacenske stated, “This is an essential ingredient.” WeWork noticed that business centers with multiple floors didn’t have much collaboration between individuals and companies who were on different levels.
“They’d work with the people on their floor, but they wouldn’t get on the elevator unless they were going to lunch or leaving for the day,” said Wacenske.
Once they added a grand staircase and opened it up, there was a dramatic change.
“You can literally feel the creative energy flowing between floors. Members move between floors constantly, now,” said Wacenske.
Each new WeWork space can be thought of as the culmination of purposeful design. The interior colors and materials, the size of common spaces, and even the shapes and sizes of sofas and chairs are all part of WeWork’s collaboration best practices. The wood floors. The large glass windows. Each element is added for a specific purpose. There’s a balance between privacy and getting work done, and the openness that invites collaboration.
WeWork University Park
WeWork’s collaboration statistics are impressive, and 70 percent of WeWork members have done business with other members. In addition to their office design, WeWork uses technology and staff to help facilitate collaboration. The WeWork app is a business oriented social network that’s exclusive to its members. Within the app, the services directory helps individuals find members who offer products and services they may need. WeWork Community Managers are also available to help connect members. It’s kind of like a private Quora network. If an entrepreneur is facing a challenge, there’s a good chance that a fellow WeWork member has faced the same challenge. The Community Manager is the person who can put you in front of a member who might be able to walk you through it.
WeWork has several levels of membership. The basic level gives individuals access to the WeWork app. Members can upgrade to a drop-in desk, a permanent desk, or a private office.
Wacenske stated that of the 850 person capacity Uptown Dallas office, he expects to see a good mix of individual entrepreneurs, small to medium size startup teams, and even large enterprise businesses like Microsoft, who recently moved 300 employees into WeWork spaces, taking advantage of the collaborative environment.
WeWork Uptown is located at 1920 McKinney Avenue. A second WeWork office will be opening Downtown in Thanksgiving Tower next Spring. WeWork is considering opening additional locations in other cities, such as Fort Worth and Frisco.