Technology has a great role to play in WeWork's phenomenal growth. Source: Shutterstock

Technology has a great role to play in WeWork’s phenomenal growth. Source: Shutterstock

How WeWork uses technology to delight customers

JUST about a year ago, WeWork didn’t have a credible presence in Southeast Asia.

Today, it has established co-working spaces in 16 locations in this part of the world, launching one of its biggest centers in the region in Kuala Lumpur recently. Globally, the company has 510 co-working spaces in about 97 cities.

In an exclusive interview with Tech Wire Asia, WeWork Southeast Asia Director of Engineering (Technology) Beverly Dolor highlighted some of the ways the company uses technology to make sure it is able to maintain its growth rate and delight customers at the same time.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to do with technology over the past few years. We’re a data-driven organization. It’s a part of our culture, be it in the US or in Asia — we leverage data to ensure we make optimal choices for all our projects,” explained Dolor.

For the end-user within the WeWork community, one of the things that has a big impact is the WeWork member app. It’s what helps connect members across businesses, co-working spaces, and even geographies.

The app is also something that members use to manage their membership and their daily needs at WeWorks locations.

Some of the capabilities and features built into the app have taken quite a while to build and deploy, but they’re what help create a stellar customer experience for the end user — and ultimately, that’s what Dolor and her team are most proud of.

From understanding which desks are free on a certain day to making meeting room reservations that provide everything that the team will need for their discussion to fixing broken lights (or chairs), the app can do everything.

Dolor’s team is working on a new feature that they hope to release to members soon, and believe it will absolutely delight end users.

“When our members visit other WeWork locations, they find it hard to navigate within the space. They don’t know where a particular meeting room is or where the restrooms are — and they don’t want to disturb other members engrossed in projects of their own. Our new feature maps every WeWork space to help members navigate as if they belong there,” explained Dolor.

Essentially, just as people use Google Maps to navigate to a WeWork location, they can use the member app to navigate within the space.

Building this “feature” sounds easier than it actually is, and when you factor in the fact that it has to be built for more than 500 of WeWork’s office locations, you begin to realize the complexity of the project. Dolor, however, seems unfazed. “It’ll be out before you know it,” she says confidently.

Innovations attract enterprises

Enterprises make up 29 percent of WeWork’s total membership. Further, there are many enterprise-grade clients — banks, engineering, and tech companies — who often ask WeWork to operate and manage some or all of their office space for them.

This arrangement allows them to create an environment that companies believe facilitates collaboration and innovation — but Dolor points out that there’s more to the story.

“The culture at WeWork, consistent across the globe, is something that helps their teams innovate and drive their digital transformation, but their ability to access our network of members and collaborate with them is a big draw,” explained Dolor.

Another thing that Dolor pointed — another big draw for companies is that when a particular enterprise workspace is managed by WeWork, the business can gain insights about which teams are collaborating amongst themselves and how they use meeting rooms and other facilities.

“We’re very careful about privacy when we share information with companies about the movements of their employees — we make sure it’s all ethical and appropriate, but it’s also something that gives managers insights into whether they’re moving towards a more collaborative culture and helps them identify which teams are struggling to adopt the new culture and leverage the new workspace created for them,” highlighted Dolor.

Architects can code at WeWork

Members aside, WeWork’s biggest strength is its ability to grow quickly — build new collaborative workspaces wherever there is a need. And it’s important for them to maintain the same vibe that fuels the culture that they boast of.

Quickly building those workspaces is a feat that couldn’t be achieved without technology, and Dolor is proud to point out that the company uses 3D models extensively — right from the time they decide to acquire or build a new space.

“When our team learns that we’re going to be opening up a new workspace, we map and model the space in a virtual 3D environment and then start designing how that place can be optimized to benefit members while also instilling WeWork values and culture into it,” explained Dolor.

“Our architects can code, and that blows my mind,” said Dolor proudly.

At the end of the day, there’s a lot that goes into creating a WeWork workspace. Given the rapid pace of growth and the momentum that the company has established so far, technology plays a significant role in helping architects and the rest of the business deliver on expectations.

If things go to plan, that role will only grow as the company evolves into a technology-first business, connecting its community whether members are together in one of their physical spaces or in the digital environment they create via their mobile app.