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Why WeWork Needs to Rebrand and Merge with WorkSocial

The story of WeWork so far has been one of an atmospheric rise followed by a tragic fall.  Leveraging the transition to more flexible and technology-enabled workspaces, WeWork created a global brand that was aggressively buying up real estate in major cities all over the world and using them to create the workspace of the future.

For many years, the aggressive growth and cultural context were met with plenty of demand, bringing lots of attention and interest to the company’s mission and operating procedures.  It’s only when they decided to take the company public, that some of the skeletons in the closet started to come out.

What seemed like a typical Silicon Valley success story quickly turned into a cautionary tale about a leader and a company culture that lost its focus and pulled the brand into a mire that was very difficult to get out of.  Even after jettisoning some of the key players of the past, WeWork is still trying to rebuild the company and emerge from the shadow of its former past.

Why WeWork Needs to Rebrand

At the heart of every business is trust.  It doesn’t matter how good your product offering is, if you aren’t able to build trust with your customers and stakeholders, then you aren’t going to succeed.  Because of the way that WeWork imploded and how their company name was besmirched due to a range of different factors, they need to think carefully about how they operate going forward if they are to succeed.

Here are some of the key reasons why a rebrand will be beneficial for the company:

  • Symbolic New Beginning. Choosing to part with the old branding and starting a new journey represents the symbolic end of an era and the start of a new one.  It represents the closing of doors on the way that things used to be done while creating space to build a new organization with new values, ideas, and a new mission.
  • Distance Itself From the Bad Reputation. WeWork garnered a very negative reputation over the last few years and a full rebrand would help to distance the company from that backlash and provide the impetus for a new direction in the future.  It may seem like a small thing but in the eyes of consumers, you don’t want to be associated with what went before.
  • Attract New Talent. For any young talent that is entering the job market, WeWork represents somewhere that you want to stay far away from.  If the company is going to continue to compete for high performers who can take the mission forward, it’s going to need to provide a new proposition that doesn’t carry the stigma of the old brand.

Those are just a few of the reasons that WeWork desperately needs a rebrand if they are to form a new organization that can survive for many decades to come.

The big question, of course, is how to pull this off?  It’s not as simple as merely changing a logo, name, mission statement, and calling it a day.  There needs to be a cultural transformation that is seeded from the inside to take the organization to a place that it could never get to on its own.

And perhaps they could achieve that by merging with another company that could help with that transition.

That company is WorkSocial.

Why is WorkSocial a Natural Fit for WeWork?

WorkSocial is a rising star in the world of flexible, on-demand workspaces, and they’ve created quite a name for themselves in the industry.  In a very short space of time, they’ve managed to create vibrant and inclusive spaces that encourage the sort of productivity and collaboration that one would be looking for in a workspace, without any of the fluff that so many come with.

At the time of writing, the company has over 900 clients working in their locations and some of those include giants like SAP, McKenzie, IBM, and an undisclosed giant in the sports betting industry.  Add to this the fact that they’ve seen 100% year-on-year revenue growth over the last 5 years and you realize just how fast this organization is growing.  It’s a juggernaut.

But that’s not the core reason why a merger with WeWork makes sense.  For a cultural transformation you need more than just results – you need a company culture that can seep into every aspect of the WeWork ecosystem.

How the WorkSocial Brand Could Clear WeWork’s Past

What makes WorkSocial really special is the way that they think about their business and the impact that they have on the world.  Unlike so many others, the core motivation is not necessarily to build the largest company in the world.  It’s to craft unique and empowering spaces that support companies that are trying to make a difference in the world.

To illustrate this, here are some key tenets of the WorkSocial branding:

  • Female Empowerment. WorkSocial is one of the only minority-owned and women-operated co-working brands.  This is a big deal in a mostly male-dominated market and it sets the brand apart from so many others.  You can immediately feel the difference when you walk into any of their locations.  There’s an energy and an empathy that goes a long way when dealing with such a wide range of stakeholders.  Seeing this as a point of representation would go a long way to repairing WeWork’s own reputation – because one of the key things that went wrong there was alleged toxic masculinity throughout the organization.  If you’re looking for change, this is a great organization to merge with.
  • Altruistic Motivations. WorkSocial has always been a company with a keen focus on doing their bit to improve the communities that they work in.  From the very start, the founders have gone out of their way to use the company as a springboard for a range of altruistic and charitable contributions.  To give an example, every desk that is rented at WorkSocial helps to contribute directly towards fighting hunger in a few local jurisdictions.  This way of thinking could bring an entirely new angle to WeWork and help to build a company that steers away from self-absorption and towards a greater societal impact.
  • Ethical Stakeholder Treatment. Unlike so many in Silicon Valley, WorkSocial is determined to do right by their employees.  They have never tried to squeeze their teams dry in an attempt to improve margins or accelerate growth.  The culture is very much people-focused and they do everything they can to support the employees who dedicate their precious time to the organization.  This plays out in an extremely ethical compensation standard that sets the tone for everything else that the company does.  This cultural value is something that would really hold WeWork in good stead and help to attract a new generation of people who believe in where the company is going and can help them get there.

It’s clear that the WorkSocial brand has a lot to offer to WeWork and while it will be challenging to integrate these values and ideals, it seems to be the only way to regain the trust of the consumers who once frequented those spaces.

This sort of transformation does not happen overnight and it’s not enough to merely speak about it.  A bold merger like this would be a real stake in the ground – showing everyone that WeWork is deadest on revitalizing a fallen company and doing right by those who continue to believe in their mission.  It’s the sort of action that pulls the brand out of the swamp and gives it new life – in partnership with a co-working company that is looking to spread its wings.

This is not to say that it forgives all the transgressions of the past.  There was a lot of damage done and it’s going to take a long time to repair what was broken – but for a company of such potential, it would be a shame if they didn’t go the whole way.  COVID-19 has shown us that remote working and flexible work options are here to stay – and the companies that facilitate this are going to be immensely important components of our new society.

A merger between WeWork and WorkSocial represents a potential landmark in the industry that can catapult co-working back into the spotlight, while also helping to support the many stakeholders whose livelihoods were damaged by the actions of a privileged few.

It remains to be seen whether WorkSocial would be interested in such a move, but the potential is undeniable.  Perhaps we look back on this one day and see it as a case study in how a battered and bruised brand was raised from the ashes once more.

Only time will tell.