07 Jul 17

Unchain Your Staff: Workplace Metabolism

Access Over Ownership & The User:X

For generations, success has been measured by what you own: the sleek car, the cool home, the designer clothes. Millennials are upending that trend, instead seeking prestige in what they can rent. Through services like Airbnb, Rent the Runway, and DriveMyCar, they can experience a lifestyle that might otherwise be out of reach. Some of the trend reflects the economic realities of stagnant wages, high home prices, and high levels of college debt for young U.S. workers. But most of it stems from a new mindset enabled by technology and the increasing lure of city life.


Owning a car is not only unnecessary for people who live and work in urban hubs, it’s a hassle. Insurance and parking are expensive, and new developments often restrict car access. Bike lanes and pedestrian paths are higher priorities for health- and eco- conscious Millennials, along with access to public transport and cost-effective options like Uber. For out-of-town trips, they can use Zipcar or another service.

That instinct is shaping how millennials view the workplace. Two-thirds of them aspire to work for themselves, according to a recent Harris Poll, and practically all came of age in an environment where the lines between work and play are blurred. As a result, they want workspace that caters to both, offering a fun and stimulating environment that can also boost their careers.  That means health rooms, beverage bars, ping pong tables, common areas filled with natural light, as well as networking opportunities, tech-enabled workspaces, and business services. As in other parts of their lives, they’d rather pay a premium to share the experience of being in an upscale work environment than go down-market to find a place they can afford.


Agile Amenity & Collaborative Consumption

  • Millennials’ desires to work in beautiful and stimulating environments gives rise to the co-working club, a hybrid of executive business centres and upscale clubs.
  • The shared workspace model borrows heavily from hotel typologies, with perks like beverage bars, wellness facilities, and high-end fixtures.
  • The subscription model encourages ongoing value-added services, such as events, coaching, concierge service, data analytics, and rewards for loyalty.


What began as a co-working space in New York’s Soho seven years ago has morphed into one of the world’s fastest growing lessees, with 154 locations in 36 cities worldwide.

Unlike some coworking models that emphasize business services  and shared space, WeWork is selling the aspirational lifestyle of an entrepreneur. With hip designs and hot locations, WeWork understands that physical space is just the starting point. The company also offers opportunities for members to host large-scale meetings or confidential conversations in private booths. There’s craft beer and ping pong for fun.

That helped turn WeWork into a powerhouse brand that’s the largest landlord in New York City. For a generation of digital nomads who aren’t tethered to a mortgage or car payments, WeWork’s global aspirations are another perk of membership. With high-speed Internet and ubiquitous communication, members can work and compete from practically any part of the world.  The company also hosts events and talks to help members engage with each other and find value in each market. Next up: WeLive, offering access to shared housing space and services like housekeeping, laundry, and cooking.

Talk to Amanda Stanaway about Unchain Your Staff: Workplace Metabolism