Episode 1

WeWork – The Unicorn That Really Was A Fairy Story

In this episode we take an in-depth look at the fall-out from the ill-fated IPO of co-working giant WeWork.

A business that was created in the sharp-elbowed real estate market in New York, WeWork came to define what an office and organisational culture should look like for legions of Millennials and Generation Z worker. It spawned countless imitations with competitors scrambling to keep up with its innovations and number of openings.

At the helm was co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann whose extraordinary energy and vision combined with an enormous talent for self -promotion and propaganda was almost messianic. Yet underneath a business that seemingly carried all before it were some troubling signs.

Charting this extraordinary story is Reeves Wiedeman whose book Billion Dollar Loser provides a meticulously researched account from WeWorks conception through to its failed stock market debut. Reeves is a contributing editor at New York Magazine and has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Harpers, Rolling Stone and other publications.

About my guest

Transcript

[Chris]: If you’re enjoying the Oven-Ready HR Podcast, please do rate and review us and feel free to share with your network. To find out more about Chris Taylor, your host, visit OvenReadyHR.com and follow us on Twitter too @OvenHR. Thank you.

Welcome to season two of the Oven-Ready HR Podcast. In this opening episode, we take an in-depth look at the fallouts from the ill-fated IPO of co-working giant, WeWork, a business that was created in the sharp-elbowed real estate market in New York. WeWork came to define what an office and organisational culture should look like for legions of millennials and generation z workers. It spawned countless imitations with competitors scrambling to keep up with its innovations and number of openings.

At the helm was co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann, whose extraordinary energy and vision combined with an enormous talent for self-promotion and propaganda was almost messianic. Yet underneath a business that seemingly carried all before it were some troubling signs. A lack of corporate governance and, at times, an appropriate adult in the room. An alcohol-fuelled work culture that appeared more at home in the frat house than the boardroom, a senior team that lacked diversity and where nepotism was celebrated, not questioned. The fear and greed of investors, seemingly content to pull more cash into a business that was losing focus and continuing to burn through billions of dollars of funding.

Charting this extraordinary story is this week’s guest Reeves Wiedeman, whose book Billion Dollar Loser provides meticulously researched account from WeWork’s conception through to its failed stock market debut. Reeves is a contributing editor at New York magazine and has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Harpers, Rolling Stone, and other publications.

Reeves, welcome. Firstly, congratulations on the huge success of Billion Dollar Loser. You were recently awarded The Best Business Book of The Year 2020 by The Sunday Times. You must be very proud of the book success.

[Reeves]: Yeah, thank you very much for saying that. It has been a huge blessing in an otherwise pretty dark year for all of us. I think I’ve been very gratified to see people’s reaction to the book.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Reeves]: It’s one of those when WeWork is collapsing, of course, everyone is interested, and you’re not totally sure how much interest there will be when the book comes out a year later. But I’ve been glad to see that the people seem to be taken with the story.

[Chris]: No, absolutely. How long did it take you to write the book?

[Reeves]: Good question. Well, Adam Neumann stepped down as CEO of WeWork at the end of September of 2019. I didn’t start writing the book the next day, but not too long after that I had realised that there probably was a book to be written in this and first turned in my first draft of this book in May of 2020. So, it was about six months, and then a long summer of getting the book all pulled together. So, about a year from Adam Neumann’s departure to the book coming out.

[Chris]: Okay. Sounds good. It’s quite an undertaking, isn’t it?

[Reeves]: Yeah. It’s more than—this was my first book, so.

[Chris]: Well, congratulations. The next one will be easier, perhaps.

[Reeves]: Yeah. I was blissfully unaware of actually how compressed that timeline was. So, yeah, I’ll know more the next time.

[Chris]: Okay. Now you met Adam Neumann on a number of occasions. You vividly describe in the book that his office was larger and more palatial than the one he occupied before. I think the final one has sort of plunge pools and saunas and all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

[Reeves]: Yes.

[Chris]: Whilst at the same time, the goldfish bowls that his customers were using became ever smaller. This sort of largess, do you think, gives quite an insight into his character? Sort of rather like the sudden King at Versailles?

[Reeves]: Yeah. There’s a level of that. I mean, I and it’s confusing to sort of understand. I don’t think that Adam Neumann was someone who all he cared about was money and his own personal power and all of that. I think there was a lot of genuineness and sincerity in the way that he talked about his company, which we can talk about.

[Chris]: Sure.

[Reeves]: But there was clearly a part of him became this larger-than-life figure both within his own company and beyond that. I think he was clearly interested in sort of fomenting that persona for certainly some practical reasons, and then also maybe for some personal reasons. Certainly, by the end of it, he had become this kind of out-sized figure that was not totally in keeping with the way he talked about himself and his company.

[Chris]: Okay, and the world of New York real estate is also notoriously quite sharp, elbowed.

[Reeves]: Yes.

[Chris]: To succeed, you need a certain amount of hooks, but don’t you?

[Reeves]: Yeah. I mean, a wilting flower is not going to succeed in that world.

[Chris]: No.

[Reeves]: So, there’s a way in which Adam Neumann was one among many characters like this, and certainly, perhaps even less ruthless than some of the other players he was kind of dealing with. I think he certainly stepped up to meet that challenge in certain ways. But yeah, New York real estate is as hard as it gets and filled with these kinds of personalities. I think that in some ways, it tells part of the story of how Adam became who he was in a different way than some of the other big-name startup founders of the past decade.

[Chris]: Okay, and the culture WeWork. I remember working. I was doing a paper for a course I was writing or doing at the time, and it was sort of their legendary summer camps, and I use it as an example as to how to build employee engagement, and they were quite something, weren’t they?

[Reeves]: Yeah, they were, and early on, they were really fun.

[Chris]: Yeah!

[Reeves]: I mean, you went to one of these parties, which is what they were, essentially. I mean, it was a weekend—

[Chris]: It was a festival, wasn’t it?

[Reeves]: Yeah, it was—right. It was a festival. I mean, if you want to think about it in kind of a South by Southwest sort of, kind of way. There are talks you can go to and all of that, but ultimately, you were there to have a good time over a long weekend. That’s what this was. It was a music festival. It was gathering with your co-workers. It was a lot of drinking and partying, and it was fun. We were sort of a young workforce. It was kind of a dream weekend in certain ways.

Perhaps inevitably, but it is perhaps telling, the bigger and bigger it got, as WeWork suddenly had not dozens or a couple of hundred employees but thousands of employees, eventually, it was actually flying everyone to the UK. The last two festivals they had were a few hours outside of London once this had become sort of a global company.

Everyone I talked to talked about how they weren’t quite as fun. It was kind of weird. It was, “Why is the company spending what’s clearly millions of dollars on this event? They’re flying me across the world, which is kind of cool, but also, I’m exhausted. I haven’t had a day off in forever, and I kind of wished they had just given me a free weekend.”

So, it was definitely part of the early ethos and just the kind of vibe that the company gave off, and I think by the end that had started to go away, and again, some of that I think is just kind of inevitable. You can throw a fun and cool party when you only have a few people, but the party inevitably comes kind of corporate and a little more boring when it gets bigger.

[Chris]: Yeah, and actually, a lot of us really sort of hate those sorts of corporate events and those parties.

[Reeves]: Yes.

[Chris]: And actually, we’d all rather run a mile. I liked the culture of this firm when it was small. You had the IT person who I think he was still at school–

[Reeves]: Yes.

[Chris]: –sort of coming in and fixing things, and then he’d have to get to class and come back again, and you had employees literally painting offices and laying carpets and finishing off before clients were moving in the day after. He had an extraordinary effect on how to motivate people, didn’t he?

[Reeves]: Yeah, that was one of his great skills and remains one of his great skills. He was the kind of person who was good at a couple of things. He was good at presenting this kind of grand vision for WeWork. That they weren’t just renting out office space. They were changing the way that people worked and giving people a better day at work, and this was a pretty inspiring message.

[Chris]: Absolutely.

[Reeves]: Especially as sort of a young person coming into your first job, and to come into a place that’s giving you this sense of purpose and not just a pay cheque, I think was very motivating for people. Then Adam also had this ability that many other startup founders have of pushing people beyond their limits and not accepting anything as impossible and setting these goals that he knew were a little bit crazy, but you shoot for the stars and land on the moon sort of thing was kind of the ethos here.

He was extremely good at motivating and people liked it. You were working sort of crazy hours, but you were working with your friends. You were drinking after work and drinking after work and continuing to work. You know, there was very little separation for a lot of people, especially in the early days of their life and work, which I think was very appealing to people for a long time until it wasn’t.

[Chris]: It became their family, didn’t it? It became their family.

[Reeves]: Yeah, exactly, and that’s a double-edged sword. I think you can really kind of motivate people that way and make them feel involved. But then once the company starts to become bigger, once Adam Neumann is clearly not just a member of the family, he is sort of towering above everyone, once the hierarchy emerges—

[Chris]: Literally.

[Reeves]: Literally, yes. He is. He is very tall. Once people start to realise that there is a life for them beyond their job, or could be, people start to ask questions, and they get burnt out, and they become a little bit embittered in a lot of cases. So, I think that sort of family idea is both a sort of compelling one, but then you have to be very careful about that you actually do treat people like they’re a family member and not just an employee that you get to tell what to do. The upshot is that it’s almost impossible to do that. Families are complicated.

[Chris]: Sure.

[Reeves]: There’s a reason that companies have sort of structures with rules in place and rules in the way you’re going to treat people and compensate them and all of those things, and so ultimately, I think that idea of running a company like a family is kind of impossible.

[Chris]: Yeah. I mean, stock options were one of the key motivational tools, wasn’t it, that were used with staff?

[Reeves]: Yeah. I mean, the salaries were not huge at the company early on.

[Chris]: No.

[Reeves]: In some cases, people took pay cuts to go work at WeWork, and some of that was to get out of a boring job and go to a more exciting one, but another part of that was the promise of riches down the line, and WeWork stood as if you were someone getting into a startup over the past decade and looking at kind of having stock options that might one day become extremely valuable, the best way to do that was to go work for a tech company.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Reeves]: If you had the skills for that, you could do that. WeWork was this sort of rare company where you didn’t need that, but you could sort of have this potential benefit of working for a unicorn that was seemingly on the rise. Adam talked a lot, I mean, very openly telling people, “You’re going to be a millionaire one day.” There was a world in which that might possibly become true, but it ignored, again, the downside, which clearly came to pass as well as some of the details of how a stock option actually works and all of that, which a lot of the young people who were working at this company–

[Chris]: They didn’t understand.

[Reeves]: –they didn’t really understand. Yeah, they didn’t understand that stock option doesn’t mean you just suddenly own stock in the company. It means you have an option to buy stock in the company one day that might one day become more valuable. So, that, among other things, I think motivated people for a while, and then once they kind of started to understand it, and obviously once things sort of fell apart, created a lot of bitterness.

[Chris]: Yeah, I mean, there was quite a revolving door, wasn’t it? As the business grew where people were coming, really experienced people that were sort of parachuted in by investors to keep an eye on things and try and give it some sort of structure and stability, but they didn’t seem to last very long, did they?

[Reeves]: Yeah, I think there was kind of two sets of revolving doors. At the lower levels of the company, there was a pretty common kind of refrain, I would hear. Where you came in, the first six months were the best six months you’d ever had at a job. It was so much fun. You were so excited. You had kind of six months of feeling like, okay, like this is still pretty good, but I’m also recognising some of the weirdness here, and then six months of, “Get me out of here.” You had kind of an 18-month life cycle for a lot of employees, and that was hard to keep up with.

Then at the upper levels, as you pointed out, especially as the company grew, they tried to bring in more experienced hands, which is obviously a classic thing that happens at startups as they grow. At WeWork, there were not many people that lasted very long in those ranks. That was in the ranks where you were in meetings with Adam, and you were in his sort of orbit.

Adam, for better or worse, was someone who kept a fairly tight circle of people. He valued loyalty very highly, in many cases, above sort of being critical of his ideas. It’s not to say that he never listened to critiques or never changed his mind, but that was a refrain that came up over and over again of people who, if you weren’t on board, if you weren’t willing to push in the way that he was willing to push, you were suddenly on the outs. That led to people, really experienced, really great candidates from other places eventually kind of just deciding this office environment wasn’t for them and leaving. So, there was this other revolving-door sort of at the top.

[Chris]: You mentioned that senior management sort of lacked diversity, and I think there was a real noticeable absence of senior women.

[Reeves]: Yeah.

[Chris]: I think when questioned about this, he remarked that “He was brunette. Another colleague was blonde, and they have a knower,” which was a reference to the sexuality of a recently appointed executive.

[Reeves]: Yes.

[Chris]: This sort of frat boy culture seemed endemic in disruptive firms, doesn’t it—Uber, WeWork? Well, why is that? What happens? Why doesn’t someone just say, “Actually, you know what? You need to kind of really think about how you say things.”

[Reeves]: I think at the end of the day, the main reason this happens is that while a lot of these firms talk about it in very progressive ways, WeWork more than any of them.

[Chris]: Yeah, and they genuinely quite—I think they believed it. Didn’t they, in a way?

[Reeves]: I think they believe it. I’m less certain that they care as much as they say they do, and WeWork, I’m not sure, is as much of an exception of this as any of these other startups. Of course, they want to create a more diverse company, but at the end of the day, what Adam Neumann wanted was to make a company that could grow, grow, grow as fast as he could. He, like anyone, is sort of naturally inclined to work with people he’s comfortable with and familiar with.

[Chris]: Sure.

[Reeves]: For him, in certain cases, especially early on, that was Israelis.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Reeves]: He’s Israeli, and there were a lot of Israelis at the company, and Israelis obviously have a strong culture and way of doing things. So, in some ways, he was more comfortable with that. There were friends and family who were at the top, and so to really have a diverse slate of people in your C-Suite or just in your general executive ranks takes a lot of effort, and it takes a commitment to that. I think that for all of WeWork’s talk about how they wanted to build that kind of world, I think much like many other companies, it just wasn’t a top priority.

[Chris]: Okay, because I mean, the most senior sort of female within the business seems to have been Rebekah, his wife.

[Reeves]: His wife. Yeah, then, and there were a handful of others, but not many, and that’s sort of perfect example is installing your wife isn’t really a way to push diversity at the top of your company.

[Chris]: No.

[Reeves]: I mean, she is not only your wife, she’s a very wealthy person. Her cousin is Gwyneth Paltrow.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Reeves]: I think that, in many ways, was sort of at the nexus of a number of problems, not least of which was the fact that there was there wasn’t seemingly a sort of sincere effort to try to really diversify the ranks.

[Chris]: I mean, his wife put in such a powerful position. I mean, that raised all sorts of corporate governance issues, didn’t it?

[Reeves]: Yes. Yeah, I think clearly these issues became rampant by the time, the company tried to go public, and it in many ways never and this is a struggle for a lot of startups is how do you go from what, in the early days, it’s not that unusual to have your family and friends be the executives. You need people who are going to come in and—

[Chris]: That you trust.

[Reeves]: –work at a lower salary. There are people that you trust. They trust you, and they trust that this is going somewhere. Making that transition from being a family business to a mature company and then to a public company is really difficult. I think WeWork clearly did not do a very good job of that, and I don’t think that Adam saw it as a problem. I think he didn’t necessarily see that his family and friends benefiting from this was an issue, and why shouldn’t they be there? They’re as good as anyone else, and you could make sort of arguments in certain cases about their qualifications.

But I think, at the end of it, it fed into this, on the one hand just a kind of these practical issues of how you were going to govern a company with so many conflicts. Then just a feeling that there was a certain class of person within the company that was always going to succeed more than anyone else, and they were going to be the family and friends. When you’re building a company that that is talking all about changing the nature of work and corporate hierarchies, it just ends up looking hypocritical, and you end up kind of, I think, demoralising the people you’re trying to get to commit to your company.

[Chris]: Was it difficult to find people to talk to about their experience of working at WeWork? How easy was it for you?

[Reeves]: Yeah, well, it shifted over time. I started reporting on the company in the Spring of 2019. So, this is still when WeWork was kind of flying high. At that point, it was hard. It was really hard to get people to talk, and I would often have kind of off the record conversations with former employees or current ones who were kind of like there’s some weird stuff going on, and I’d love to tell you about it, but—

[Chris]: I can’t.

[Reeves]: But I can’t, and there were a couple of reasons for that. One was the company had cracked down on employees in the past who had spoken out.

[Chris]: They were quite ruthless about things like that, weren’t they?

[Reeves]: They could be, yeah. They took one person to court and sued them for leaking company information.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Reeves]: So, there was a reason for companies to be somewhat fearful, and then, as much as they might want to critique things about, about Adam or the company, he was also their meal ticket, and the IPO was on the horizon. No matter who you were, whether you were an executive with a ton of stock or a junior-level person, you wanted this to go well because if it went well, you were going to get a payout. So, there wasn’t a lot of incentive to speak out, and I think it’s a problem in some ways, I think with a lot of these companies.

[Chris]: Sure.

[Reeves]: Where on the way up, the press is so good. Some of that is the way that the media reacts to these companies and wanting to kind of promote companies that are disrupting and doing things in a good way or in a different way. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think oftentimes, these companies don’t come in for the same kind of scrutiny. One of the reasons is that people who are on the inside aren’t as willing to talk.

Now, when the IPO collapsed and I began to work on the book, that changed completely. People who would never have in a million years talk to me before were certainly willing to talk to me and eager in certain places and angry and wanting there to be some reckoning with what exactly had happened. So, it became a lot easier after that.

[Chris]: Okay, but I mean, this is a company, isn’t it, that in a way it almost defined flexible workspace? I mean, you had IWG based in the UK, which was a far bigger operation but valued at something like, I don’t know, three or four billion pounds or dollars or whatever it was. Here you had potentially obviously the numbers been completely incorrect, but you had WeWork being valued at $47 billion.

[Reeves]: Yeah. It was totally out of whack with what the company did, and I think this is, in some ways, what’s tricky about the story, and what’s interesting about the story is WeWork was good at what it did.

[Chris]: Clients love it. Customers love it. Didn’t they? They absolutely did.

[Reeves]: Yeah. This was not a Theranos situation where the thing never worked. This was a situation where a company provided office space. It was a nice space. People liked it, and where things got off the rails is when they tried to become more than that. They got into apartments. They opened a gym. They opened an elementary school. They began to talk about themselves as a tech company, connecting people like a physical, social network.

These were all very sellable ideas, but in practicality, they didn’t really connect. There weren’t really overlaps in the business. There weren’t ways in which you could make a sincere argument that this was a tech company. I think that sort of pushed the company in a direction. I think it distracted the company, which is ultimately a problem, but it was also the key driver of this valuation.

[Chris]: Sure.

[Reeves]: It was the key reason that investors were willing to believe that this company could be worth $47 billion, not the $3 billion that IWG is worth. In hindsight, that looks sort of crazy, but this was just an era where if you could convince people that you were completely disrupting an industry, and perhaps there are a few industries more lucrative than global real estate, then you could justify some kind of valuation, but the reality of it never quite lined up.

[Chris]: No. I mean, this was burning through cash, wasn’t it like nothing on earth, this business?

[Reeves]: Yeah. There had never been a sort of business aside from the kind of Uber’s, that sort of class of company has burned money at an equal rate. But by the end, WeWork was burning $2 to $3 billion a year, which is pretty crazy. This is, in some ways, what venture capital is for. It is meant to give companies with new ideas trying to break into an industry a leg up, and in a way to try to do that. But this just became sort of an era, and WeWork became, I think, the prime example of this. Of these were just amounts of venture capital, billions of dollars, that allowed companies to operate in a way that just didn’t make sense. There was never going to kind of line up with the sort of reality of the economics of the business they were in.

So, that I think you can burn money on your way to profitability, but I think these amounts got so out of whack that I’m not sure there really is a company that has proven they could go from a cash burn like this to actually becoming profitable.

[Chris]: Can you pinpoint, do you think, a moment in time, in your opinion, when you think this is where the business you thought, okay, this is tipping into being something a bit more absurd than it should have done?

[Reeves]: Yeah, I think there’s a couple, but the big one is when SoftBank arrived, and this happened in 2017. SoftBank agreed to invest $4 billion into WeWork, and this was, at the time, well, one of the largest venture capital investments ever. It’s impossible to look back at that moment and say to Adam Neumann, “You really should have turned down the $4 billion that this guy was going to give to you.”

But in hindsight, what that did is it enabled all of the kind of craziness. It enabled and, in fact, not only enabled but encouraged, and Adam and WeWork had to go into all these different businesses and push to grow bigger and bigger and bigger because that was the only way to justify that amount of money.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Reeves]: Up until that point, they were, again, a really nice office operator. They weren’t profitable, but they were kind of getting their costs under control and trying to kind of head towards something that could last. I think getting that amount of money just allowed them to not have to think about these things and caused a lot of the problems.

[Chris]: And that SoftBank money, a lot of that money was obviously from various, various parties within the middle East, who obviously are looking to diversify their oil-based economies, and we’re looking at investments elsewhere. Would you say that was true?

[Reeves]: Yeah. The bulk of the money was from The Vision Fund, which is something that SoftBank and its leader, Masayoshi Son, had put together, and it was a hundred-billion-dollar venture capital fund, roughly half of which came from the Saudi Arabian government alone. Yeah, they were looking to diversify their economy, to get into sort of the information, which is what SoftBank as a sort of tech investor had been in. WeWork was a sort of unusual investment on this front. Again, it was never clear exactly how this was a tech company. The Saudis have no trouble investing in real estate around the world. It didn’t totally make sense, and it was somewhat contentious, but a part of the problem for SoftBank, as they tried to invest this Vision Fund, was that there were only so many places you could put billions of dollars.

[Chris]: Sure.

[Reeves]: And real estate is one of the big ones. It’s a business that costs a lot of money to be successful in. So, there was a way to both kind of justify the costs that WeWork would have and the potential benefit down the line.

[Chris]: Okay, and obviously as the IPO then fell apart, and Adam Neumann’s running up and down the street no shoes on and everything is beginning to look rather disastrous, it was a terrible exit really for him, wasn’t it, professionally?

[Reeves]: Yes.

[Chris]: Or do you think actually, America is pretty good at—you can be rehabilitated. He could come back, couldn’t it? I mean, the story hasn’t ended, how’s it?

[Reeves]: It certainly hasn’t ended. I think this was wildly embarrassing for Adam Neumann and for WeWork, obviously. He has gotten quite a large payout. He was initially meant to receive roughly a billion dollars, which was one of the illusions in our book title that, due to the pandemic and some legal wrangling, has been cut in half. It was recently announced that he’ll be getting about half a billion dollars.

So, not small change, and he’s going to have a lot of money. He is still a young man. He is 41 years old, and he is not someone who’s going to, I think, go quietly into the night, and sit on his pile of cash. He is already making investments in various companies, and I think he’s actively figuring out what his second act will be. I think for all the criticisms of him, he built a thing.

[Chris]: He did.

[Reeves]: He built it into quite a giant organisation, and that is a rare skill, and he made a lot of people a lot of money along the way.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Reeves]: I mean, there are certainly people who got burnt, but there were early investors who did quite well. So, I do think that that for better or worse, he’s the kind of person who’s going to get another chance, and we’ll just have to kind of wait and see what exactly that is.

[Chris]: Did you like him?

[Reeves]: Yes. Yes and no. I mean, I only spent about a half an hour with him in his office interviewing him, and he’s the kind of person you can see the charm of. He’s the kind of person where I’m not sure I want to have a beer with Mark Zuckerberg, but I’d be glad to take a tequila shot with Adam Neumann.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Reeves]: He’s fun and charming, and he takes over a room. I have a little bit of a natural scepticism towards those kinds of people. The kind of person who is just automatically the centre of attention and drives the conversation and in the ways that he wants and doesn’t necessarily answer the question that you asked. So, I think I had a healthy scepticism towards him, but I also completely understand how he’s very charming and appealing to lots of people.

[Chris]: The greatest showman almost.

[Reeves]: Yes, indeed, indeed.

[Chris]: Lastly, in light of the whole COVID crisis and the high-density real estate model that WeWork used, and other people use as well. Do you think that’s finished, or where do you see us now, sort of going back to work? I mean, obviously, the pandemic has affected all of us.

[Reeves]: Yeah, I think it’s a really tricky question to answer, but it’s a core one for WeWork and the whole real estate industry.

[Chris]: Sure.

[Reeves]: The WeWork business model was predicated on squeezing as many people into a space as possible. That is now currently not something that people want. On the other hand, it is a business that offered flexibility, that offered you a month-to-month lease if you wanted it, that offered you different kinds of spaces. They are now pitching themselves to companies as, “You know, maybe you didn’t don’t need the corporate office you thought you needed. Maybe what you need is an office here, an office there, a place for your employees to meet when they need to meet.”

[Chris]: Sure.

[Reeves]: So, they’re kind of pitching themselves that way. You know, the economics of that business are tricky. What you really want is to pile people in and have them pay rent every month. I think they’re going to have to figure it out. I think that we’re in for sort of a bit of a reckoning on that front. On the other hand, there are rays of optimism about, about how things are turning around. I do think people are eager to get back to their offices, at least in certain ways. So, there’s going to be some kind of I think pretty full-throated return to the office with some changes, and it’s going to, I think, remain to be seen a little bit, whether WeWork or someone else is the one to take advantage of that.

[Chris]: Reeves Wiedeman, thank you very much, indeed.

[Reeves]: Thanks for having me.

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Oven-Ready HR Reheated! Highlights from Season 2

Guest(s)

Jeremy Hunt MP, Michael F Schein, Matthew Taylor, Dr Sam Farley, Michael Whitfield and Reeves Wiedeman.

We’re giving listeners the opportunity for an extra slice of interviews from the first six episodes of Season 2 of the Oven-Ready HR Podcast
Episode 12
Season 2

Changing Attitudes To Mental Health At Work

Guest(s)

Dr Paola Carr-Walker

“Everybody is encouraged to think about their physical health and in the same way I think we should all be encouraged to think about our mental health. And yeah, I would say it’s not just a self-indulgent way of going about things. I think it’s very important. “
Episode 11
Season 2

How Deliveroo Inspired Delivery Of Legal Services

Guest(s)

Merlie Calvert

“I think we’ve got far too many, highly talented business owners, business managers, senior employees doing admin and tying themselves in knots versus doing what they’re best capable of doing, which is going out there, creating, innovating, conversing with people, winning hearts and minds”

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