The elevator door opened and I absentmindedly barged inside. I pressed the floor number and fumbled with my belongings. I had just endured LA morning traffic and spent a good hour combing the streets in search of one of those coveted LA parking spots that never seem to appear. The elevator halted at my floor and I looked up ready to face whatever else this city had in store for me. I hadn’t even noticed the sweet smiling 20-something girl standing across from me, the one who, as she exited, looked deeply into my eyes as she told me to have a good day. What struck me was how genuine it felt. She really meant it; she was rooting for me. As I followed her out of the elevator I immediately felt at ease. This nice, genuine LA girl would be just one of my many co-workers today.
We were at the WeWork offices in the Fine Arts building downtown on 5th Street. The grandiose building was built in the 20’s as an artists loft and art gallery and still features many of the facets that make it so special. Inhabiting the space today are creatives, freelancers, artists and entrepreneurs all there to share their work day together, in a shared space. The motto of WeWork is to provide people with the workspace, community and services you need to make a life, not just a living. And it definitely looked like life was happening—it looked fun too.
I followed my new colleague into the vibrant and funkily adorned lobby, passing by the Honesty Cafe where you can pay for your snacks directly through the WeWork app. We were greeted by the friendly community management team who are there to take care of members needs, whether that be providing a toothbrush or pen, helping to plan a happy hour event, or forging networking relationships with other WeWorkers. They are also there to (genuinely) welcome you to your work day.
Founded just six years ago in New York by Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, the two were inspired to connect and empower like-minded people. They wanted to create a new way of working and living, one that would elevate its members to help them achieve more as part of a community than they could have on their own. By providing a shared space, creatives are able to get more creative… not to mention get more done. (All those time-sucking distractions at home aren’t helping—bed, I’m talking to you.) Through the global community that WeWork has created, members are able to connect with tens of thousands of creators around the world. Now in over 90 locations in 28 cities over 12 countries, the network is both digital and physical. The Fine Arts building alone has 750 members and is one of ten locations in the LA region, including one in Irvine that just opened July 1st. Each location likes to play into its history and take cues from local community to guide their design elements, with each one vibe-ing off its own unique aesthetic and feel.
All WeWork memberships are purchased monthly, with the basic one starting at $45. This will provide access to the app, events and even special rates with partnering companies like UPS, Amazon, and—something every freelancer craves—health benefits. A basic membership allows its members the benefit of purchasing as-you-go credits depending on how many days a month he or she wants to utilize the offices.
Also available are memberships which include unlimited access. The Dedicated Desk program provides a set desk in a community office where members can leave their stuff all month. A Hot Desk membership is for those who bring their belongings with them as they come and go and don’t require a set area everyday. This program allows for access to any available workspace in the common areas, as much as they want, at most any of the WeWork locations globally. Community Lead, Kate Dehnel, explains “It’s the flexibility that makes a lot of members feel comfortable.”
Private Offices are available for rent and come fully furnished and equipped with the most advanced technology. They can be rented out by small startups with one or two people or by entire divisions of large businesses in as big as a 100-person office.
Meeting Rooms are accessible for any member despite membership type and can be booked out with purchased credits. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are used for a variety of purposes like video or photo shoots, conferences or even brainstorming sessions. Some are lined with white boards so members can literally write on the walls when an idea strikes, while others are surrounded by glass walls on all four sides for complete transparency and natural light.
Everything is taken care of at WeWork so its members can concentrate on their work rather than sweating the small stuff, i.e., office accessories, internet, printers…landlords. Each location is pet friendly and open 24/7. There are common areas to chat with one another or to take phone calls in (there are also phone booths if you want more privacy), and there’s a kitchen which is stocked with fresh fruit water, micro-roasted coffee, tea and beer on a rotating tap. Note: It’s free–the beer is free.
Community spaces are also often used for networking events, an essential part of the WeWork experience. WeWorkers are a bunch who know how to work hard but also have fun. “Lunch and Learns” are often held where members can enjoy a catered lunch while others share their expertise and knowledge with the group. Happy hours and tastings are hosted weekly, Taco Tuesdays go down with some occasional tequila, and Whiskey and Wine Wednesdays happen on hump day. Events are held three to five times a week at each WeWork location and members are free to attend any of them, no matter where they signed up. The networking opportunities at functions like this are valuable. Kate states that 60% of members end up doing transactional business with one another. “They’ll meet at Taco Tuesday and the next day I’ll see them collaborating on a project together,” she laughs.
As the day drew to a close I packed myself up and headed back towards the elevators, saying goodbye to all my newfound colleagues. But as I’m about to descend back into the hustle that is LA street-living, I glance over and see a couple of arcade machines. Just maybe the work day doesn’t have to be over quite yet. Anyone up for a game of Space Invaders?
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest. If she’s not WeWork-ing at one of their LA locations, you’ll find her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media at @lindizzaster.
Photographs by: Marielena Verdugo.