WeWork opens its doors in Melbourne

WeWork opens its doors in Melbourne

17 November 2017

Global co-working firm WeWork has officially opened its doors in Melbourne, with Victorian Minister for Innovation Phillip Dalidakis heralding the event as “the most important startup” that has come to the city, reports the Herald Sun.

The US$20 billion company has taken over six floors in the London Stores building on the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth streets.

Occupants (called “members” by WeWork) pay from $850 per month to rent office space and get services like internet, free-flowing coffee, and activities like yoga and massage on certain days.

The facility is fully leased already, with about 700 members occupying 5,000 square metres.

WeWork Australia general manager Balder Tol says the spread of business types and stages is varied, with 40 per cent of members classified as early stage startups and 30 per cent of them enterprise level.

Members include financial planners, legal firms, creative design teams, corporates such as Salesforce and ANZ, and “more traditional” tech startups, says StartupSmart.

Mr Tol claims co-working spaces best suit startups who put a premium on “human connection” as a way to define success, rather than straight financial goals, but he stresses the co-working model can work for “really anyone”.

More than 70 per cent of members collaborate in some way, and more than 50 per cent do business together directly, Mr Tol told the AFR.

“WeWork is for those hyperconnected individuals who want community engagement with other open-minded members,” he says.

To keep its members connected and happy, WeWork offers yoga and meditation on “Wellness Wednesdays,” business education on Tuesdays and Thursdays and happy hour on Friday.

“You ‘gotta finish the week with a drink,” says Mr Tol.

“Thank God it’s Monday” kicks off the working week with a full breakfast for members.

“It’s not so much about the actual breakfast, it’s what happens during that breakfast,” Mr Tol explains.

With three offices in Sydney already and another site planned for 401 Collins Street in Melbourne next year, the Australian arm of the co-working giant is looking to keep its focus within the two major cities, but is “keeping an eye” on other capitals.

After opening its first site in Manhattan in 2010, WeWork now operates 178 office sites in 56 cities.

It counts 20,000 companies as customers, including big names such as Microsoft, Salesforce, Samsung, Spotify, Starbucks, Pinterest and Facebook.