UX: WeWork

The New York Times: The Rise of the WeWorking Class

Designing corporate culture through architecture, physical and social.

From the Article

“Implicit in all this was the acknowledgment that corporate work was not a clear-cut transaction but a complicated relationship. The difference between a contractor and an employee was that the employee accepted the benefits of security and attention along with the costs of unspecified professional obligations — the sum of which could be called culture. “

” “Corporate culture” today, when it means anything at all, no longer encodes a set of values as a miscellany of obligations but instead represents an elevated way to package a miscellany of amenities.”

…Given the structure of our current economy, most companies understand that it’s in the best interests of the shareholders to call it even: They’ve withdrawn the Disney-like benefits as well as the Disney-like expectations and set their employees “free.”

…WeWork has stepped into this breach, purporting to offer the best of both worlds. On the one hand, it speaks the language of autonomy: You can choose to sit at a table or a booth or a couch, you can come and go as you please, and if you rent an actual office, you can decorate it like a tiki bar or a nuclear submarine if you fancy it. On the other, however, it speaks the language of belonging, awarding freelancers like me the chance to go to office holiday parties, to feel as if our lives have been enlivened by the scuttlebutt around the ambiently professional boathouse. With a stable corporate culture, especially in a unionized shop, these two wants aren’t contradictory: Solidarity among colleagues can give strength and definition to any individual employee’s sense of independence.

“WeWork’s executives might believe that people are lonely and atomized because our social infrastructure has been degraded, but the problem is not that we lack opportunities to brush up against one another. They confuse the possibility of interaction with the incentive and desire to interact ; they confuse their own set decoration for the provision of a common script. You cannot put a bunch of random actors on a stage and expect them to fumble their way toward a play. When a spirit of community does unfold ex nihilo in one of their spaces, the simplest explanation is selection bias: When they open locations based on proximity to a Whole Foods or an Apple store, they are masking the sorting mechanism they’ve used to build their brand.”


+Peter Strempel Drucker is mentioned in the linked article. Maybe of interest to you.