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“A great workplace experience is more than just having a desk by the window or free lunch. It’s about being able to find a conference room for a last-minute meeting or having a mix of space to help you do your best work, like a table for collaboration and a quiet area for creative thinking,” states office real-estate play WeWork in a recent ‘ideas by We’ article.
“Today’s leaders — from heads of real estate and facilities management to CHROs and CEOs — understand this. They are looking to create an environment where space is efficiently used and employees can be their most productive, collaborative, and engaged,” the article said. “We recognize the unique challenges large companies face when it comes to balancing company growth and employee engagement with real estate needs,” the company continued before announcing its latest acquisition – workplace real estate management and operations platform SpaceIQ.
SpaceIQ is a US-based – Israeli-led company. Founded in 2016, it is a relatively new market entrant providing Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS), that offers a cloud-based facility management software to companies, facilitating the automation of such tasks as office space allocation and scheduling. By January 2019, the company had received total investment amounting to $11.5 million, with the July 2018 Series A round backed by Vertex Ventures, Xplorer Capital and Bullpen Management – as highlighted in the 2019 edition of our report StartUps and their Impact on Smart Buildings 2019.
“SpaceIQ aims to bring a next-generation IWMS solution to market which is employee-centric, prioritizes user experience and responds to the latest real estate trends such as worker productivity and employee engagement,” our report highlighted, months before the acquisition. “The firm announced its official company launch in August 2017 but operated under the radar since January 2016. The company already counts some of the world’s most innovative companies as its clients, including Glassdoor, which has already recognized the return on investment that smarter use of their workspaces brings.”
In November 2017, WeWork acquired Meetup, an online platform for “in-person events,” with 18 years of data on how, where, and why people gather offline. Last year, WeWork acquired Teem, a workplace analytics company that measures how workers use conference rooms. Earlier this year, the rebranded WeCompany acquired Euclid, a startup that uses wifi signals to understand how people move through physical spaces like airports and shopping malls. These acquisitions, in addition to the recent SpaceIQ deal, makes WeWork look as much like a software services company, rather than just a commercial real estate company.
“We worked with Microsoft to provide its New York sales team with unlimited access to our buildings across the city to help them spend less time commuting and more time with customers,” says WeWork. “We partnered with ezCater to create a custom office in Boston and wall-to-wall deployment of our workplace experience software, which includes space booking, wayfinding, and guest management,” the company continued, highlighting its work with enterprise clients, which now accounts for 40% of its membership.
One reason this emerging business model is so compelling is the Innovator’s Dilemma, a business theory and accompanying book by Harvard professor and businessman Clayton Christensen. The theory suggests that the very act of serving the market they have created means larger companies with established products lose the freedom to innovate. By focusing their attention on improving the product that has brought them so much success, they lose sight of the next potential disruption. Startups, not weighed down by success and obvious market demands, have the capacity to innovate, fail, learn, and disrupt.
Over the last 10 years, WeWork has come to symbolize the startup ethos; creating “cool,” flexible, casual, yet highly functional workspaces that developed a market between the garage/bedroom entrepreneur and a young company’s first traditional office rental. Their facilities provide innovative young startups with a bit of corporate-style structure to help them grow more efficiently.
Now We Company appears to be reversing that process, to provide successful, productivity-driven, established companies with a bit of startup-style versatility to help them innovate better. Through contemporary, data-driven, workplace design approaches, WeWork can help corporations increase employee engagement, collaboration, and freedom, to inspire innovation.
Whether hosting corporations and startups in WeWork buildings or applying the startup ethos to the corporate setting, WeWork is forcing itself in between these previously much more divided business worlds and into the heart of the modern business landscape. After years of criticism and cries of overvaluation directed towards the firm, We Company may now be starting to reveal their strategy. Well timed before their highly anticipated IPO, expected this September.