Principal Jeremy Singer Pens Crain’s New York Business Op-Ed on the Importance of Coworking Spaces

November 26, 2019

In an Op-Ed published November 25, 2019, in Crain’s New York Business Principal Jeremy Singer writes about WeWork’s recent fall. He asserts that while the real estate business’ model has failed, its concept should not be abandoned as it is inherent to the city’s ethos.

To read the piece in full, either head over to Crain’s New York or scroll to see it below.

“The ‘We’ in WeWork is Very New York—Let’s Keep It”

While much has been written about the dizzying fall in the valuation of WeWork, this should not be taken as a lesson in the fundamental principles of how we live, work, learn and play. WeWork’s voracious business model does not invalidate the culture of “co.” It was a great idea. It’s still a great idea. And it’s very New York.

From the 18th century sugar refiner to the Silicon Alley start-up, our city has always attracted and encouraged ambitious risk takers. Enter WeWork. Although Wall Street and its institutional investors ultimately did not buy into the sky-high $47 billion dollar valuation and planned IPO, prompting Softbank’s Masayoshi Son to admit to an error in judgment, we should not discount the societal phenomenon on which the company was built. Our city needs more, not fewer, “we” spaces.

With the work-anywhere capability that our digital devices provide, the boundaries between work and life have become increasingly blurred, so much so that for many people, work is life. With the rise of virtual connectivity, the key ingredients derived from physical interaction, collaboration, socialization and human connection are increasingly diminished. Research points to loneliness in the United States being at epic proportions. In a recent survey by Cigna Health, 46% of respondents reported sometimes or always feeling alone.*

WeWork stood for much more than cool design, hip furniture and ironic facial hair. It offered a place for people to create human connections in physical space. Where chance interactions at work used to happen around the water cooler, they could now happen around the WeWork beer taps. These conversations are where we learn about each other’s weekends, families and hobbies—and often generate the best collaborative and innovative ideas.

With great appeal to millennials, Xers and Boomers, a worldwide membership of more than half a million users proves that bringing people together, promoting diversity of thinking and inspiring creativity and innovation are core attributes people are so desperately seeking. From Manhattan to Melbourne to Mumbai, environments that are flexible, social, democratic, agile and accessible are where people want to be.

While Wall Street has spoken, this should not spell the death of “co.” People still crave community, and are finding it in niche spaces like Luminary in NoMad, (for women and women-identified), Alma (for therapists), or the Inclusive Innovation Incubator at Howard University. Don’t count out the millennial brigades leading the charge for places and spaces that connect and inspire. More than ever, New York needs more “we” and less “us and them.”