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Unpacking WeWork’s Working Method

WeWork has become a massive commercial operation, tapping into the growing ‘freelancer’ workforce. As the company recently opens its latest offering in Bourke Street Melbourne (designed in-house), Alice Blackwood speaks to Balder Tol, the General Manager Australia, to hear what makes the start-up so successful.



BY Alice Blackwood

December 21st, 2017


WeWork has become a massive commercial operation, tapping into the growing ‘freelancer’ workforce. As the company recently opens its latest offering in Bourke Street Melbourne (designed in-house), Alice Blackwood speaks to Balder Tol, the General Manager Australia, to hear what makes the start-up so successful.

IDL: Tell me briefly about your background and what excited you about heading up WeWork in Australia?

Balder Tol: Originally from the Netherlands, I moved to Sydney over a decade ago to complete a Masters in Business Management at the University of Sydney before starting work for Airbnb Australia in 2012. As Airbnb Australia’s first employee, I was excited to be part of the rapid expansion and able to establish a strong presence for the company in key cities in Australia.

I continued to follow my passion for building communities as the General Manager of Tank Stream Labs (TSL), a technology-focused coworking space located in Sydney. However, it was the mission of WeWork that really got me excited about human connections and the value-add of fostering community. The average human spends 87 per cent of their lives in buildings, and to be part of a movement that improves that standard and humanises work is incredibly exciting.

At WeWork we have the opportunity to create spaces where people can connect and create meaning together. We use space effectively and efficiently which allows us and our community to be better equipped to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.

What is the opportunity with coworking and what is the value proposition that WeWork offers companies and workers around Australia?

Amidst macro cultural shifts – like globalisation, mass urbanisation, technological revolution, the emergence of the millennial workforce and the shift towards meaning – WeWork creates communities of like-minded people who believe we are better together.

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We transform buildings into dynamic environments for creativity, focus, and connection.
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We transform buildings into dynamic environments for creativity, focus, and connection. More than just the best place to work, though, this is a movement toward revolutionising work. We believe that CEOs can help each other, offices can use the comforts of home, and we can all look forward to Monday if we find real meaning in what we do.

A report this year found Australia was the ninth happiest country in the world, however more and more Australians struggle with finding a good work-life balance ranking in the bottom third of OECD countries for working longer hours, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

WeWork is redefining success as measured by personal fulfilment, not just the bottom line. If you come with a mindset that is open to social engagement and the prospect of being part of a developing community – something bigger than any one individual – then you will significantly benefit from WeWork and our community.

You mentioned that WeWork has the capabilities to join patrons together and create new connections – can you tell me a little bit about the power of your database?

The collaboration between our members is facilitated in both the physical space and the Community Teams as well as by our proprietary technology. We’ve seen our members leverage our community and scale to reach more people in more geographies. If you’re a company in New York, you can effectively be in China, Australia, Mexico, etc. just by joining WeWork.

Technology is another. Every facet of WeWork’s operations can be enhanced by smart technology. Powered by We and WeOS, we will optimise space usage and empower members to manage their own space. Member facing apps empower collaboration and functionality. Through the space, our programming facilitated by the community teams and our technology, 50 per cent of our members do business together and 70 per cent of our member companies have collaborated in some way.

Check out WeWork Martin Place, Sydney, designed by TomMarkHenry.


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