I work, you work, WeWork together

The hottest office concept in the US is coming to Tel Aviv.

WeWork Hollywood (photo credit: Courtesy)
WeWork Hollywood
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you are over 50, chances are you won’t know the fine differences between hubs and incubators, accelerators and shared spaces … but rest assured, Tel Aviv has them all.
What used to be an endearing term for a husband, hubs, now connotes a work environment where people in the same field share some cool office space.
Incubators, once known as hospital equipment for tiny babies, now refers to a venture capital-based enterprise infused with mentorship, where young entrepreneurs and technology whizzes spend a limited time trying to find the next big thing. Accelerators are not only found under your foot in the car; today, the Office of the Chief Scientist and various municipalities are among the backers who open these trendy spaces where bright workers can bounce around ideas.
Shared areas are simply open-plan buildings where everyone works and drinks coffee with everyone else.
And now, Tel Aviv is gearing up for a new phenomenon: WeWork is coming to town, more precisely to 7 Dubnov Street, right in the heart of the city. Benjy Singer, director of WeWork Israel, claims the organization has basically reinvented the office – and Israel is perfect for the new concept.
“Everyone says Israel is a ‘start-up nation,’” he says, “but not everyone has a brother who wrote the book.” Singer is referring to the 2009 runaway bestseller written by Saul Singer and Dan Senor, which investigated how a tiny, young country like Israel, in a constant state of war and with limited natural resources, produces more start-up companies than almost any other. After the book came out, Benjy Singer – who was in the food business – decided to change direction. “I had opened great restaurants where people could have fun,” he explains, “now I wanted to help them do business.”
On a trip to the States he met Adam Neumann, an Israeli living in New York who, together with partner Miguel McKelvey, started the WeWork success story in America. Neumann, a former Israel Navy officer, created a fun office concept with a buzz, where companies rent small glassed-in spaces with desks. WeWork buildings meet every conceivable work-based need: conference rooms with state-of-the-art gear, printers, cleaners and coffee, along with a community of like-minded WeWorkers, having fun as they make their money.
Within five years WeWork has become the fastest-growing lessee of new office space in New York, and is slated to soon become the fastest-growing lessee in America as a whole. So far it has spread to eight US cities, has thousands of satisfied customers and will gross an estimated $150 million this year, with operating margins of 30 percent, according to Forbes. Projected growth is in the billions and offices are now being planned throughout the States as well as in London, Amsterdam and Israel. WeWorkers pitch ideas to each other over coffee and bagels; find advertisers, lawyers, editors and website designers right there on the floor; and feel part of a creative community.
“I knew Israel was ripe for this,” says Singer, “and I convinced Adam to share the values of WeWork here.”
WeWork takes a conventional building (think boring walls and long corridors) and turns it into a magical place. Sparkling glass office spaces cozy up to luxurious lounges on each floor, with free coffee and beer on tap, private conference rooms, a rooftop patio open to all for schmoozing, networking and presentations, a community manager who receives guests and packages for all WeWorkers, printing facilities, high-speed Internet and private phone booths; everything light and airy and swish. Dubnov has 2,600 square meters of floor space divided into small offices holding from one to eight desks. The glass walls are screened from hip height to floor; sitting at the computer one feels they have privacy, standing up you can wave at your neighbors next door.
“That is the power of WeWork,” claims Singer, “our uniqueness stems from the creation of a community as well as the support and collaboration generated from it.”
Singer believes the working world has changed: most people can work wherever they hang their computer; real estate costs are soaring with concomitant exorbitant rents; and whereas most workers used to crave privacy, today people prefer community. We- Work, he says, can change space into just that.
“WeWork builds community through design, technology and content,” he says. Members sign an agreement on a month by month basis, much like gym membership. Unlike traditional offices which can become too big for a shrinking company, or too small for a growing one, WeWork offers office space by the desk – each month you simply hire another desk, or one less, according to need.
The building at 7 Dubnov Street, which is slated to open December 1, holds 422 desks, which rent for between NIS 700 and NIS 2,200 a month.
A second WeWork building will swing into action on Arye Shenkar Street in Herzliya at the beginning of January, followed by a third location in Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market in the middle of next year. At this stage, a projected 300 companies will rent offices from We- Work by the time all the buildings are operational.
With most of the space already rented, Singer is optimistic the company will open with 100% occupancy.
Who knows? WeWork may soon start a new community around the corner from you. Stay tuned.
For more information: http://wework.com/israel