What do smartphone breathalyzer Alcohoot and planning company Lynn McCarry Events have in common?
Both companies use WeWork, a New York-based provider of shared office space.
While the majority of WeWork’s customers are small startups — the average size is around three people — the company has also leased space to non-profit organizations like Charity Water, as well as bigger names like Airbnb and Uber.
What began as a single building in 2010 exploded into a network of 17 sites across six cities, with more on the way. WeWork currently has eight buildings in New York and plans to debut three more in the near future: 401 Park Avenue South is scheduled to open on May 1, while 79 Madison and 379 West Broadway will follow later this summer.
The secret to WeWork’s success, said chief strategy and marketing officer Noah Kerner, lies in its philosophy that office space can be more than just a place to work.
“It’s the power of community,” he said. “People are working in a new way and looking for a new type of environment.”
WeWork supplies that new type of environment in part by staffing each of its buildings with a community manager. In addition to managing their respective sites, Kerner said, the community managers “bring people together through events, through meetups, through workshops, mentoring sessions, things like that.”
It also runs a mobile app to connect its customers within and across its sites. “If you’re a marketing company in one of our buildings and you’re looking for a design shop, you can open the app,” Kerner said. Workers just looking for a new water-cooler pal can also use the app to see who shares their floor.
Of course, the amenities don’t hurt, either. WeWork customers have access to bonuses like meditation rooms, recording studios and — the ultimate office perk — free beer.