Business as (Anything But) Usual: WeWork Discovers its Stride in a Pandemic
When Kelly Thompson first visited WeWork, she said the atmosphere reminded her of a familiar energy she had known in New York – an infectious hustle and bustle that filled the air with a certain synergy. Now as the Portfolio Community Manager for the Sunset North, Lincoln Square and Bellevue Place WeWork offices, Kelly continues to create connections and venture out into the burgeoning Bellevue landscape.
“When I first moved here, I would take myself out to dinner so I could try different restaurants, and the people I’ve crossed paths with while out and about have become great connections I still keep in touch with today,” Kelly said.
Once COVID-19 upended regular work patterns, Kelly and her team faced a difficult transition into a remote routine that shrunk social outlets and daily activity. But as with any stumbling block, WeWork pursued new possibilities to reinvent the "old normal" and discover bold solutions.
“When we returned, our cleaning processes were enhanced, and new, flexible memberships were rolled out for socially-distanced reservations,” Kelly explained. “Offices became available by the hour without any commitment to future bookings so folks could still conveniently access the space.”
Traditional office environments are in the midst of a major overhaul, Kelly explained, with hybrid models emerging as a predominant workforce trend expected to stick around long after the coronavirus wanes. Among the symptoms of the culture, like reduced staff on site, are mobile furniture arrangements called “soft seating” that aid higher productivity for cooperative tasks, or lush plants and interactive white boards divorced from sterile cubicles and hierarchical layouts.
“Between rotational staffing schedules and a greater emphasis on online correspondence, we’ve committed to provide assistance around the clock and reimagine the individualized touches we offer, like packaged snacks and catering brought to clients, almost like a flight attendant,” Kelly said.
Outfitted for comfort and a revamped aesthetic, interior design has become a major priority for Kelly and her team when supporting clients. She now balances both digital and physical realms, whether purchasing Zoom bundles or reassessing decor in a conference room.
“We’re looking to customize our approach to offer something more personable that proves its value in the details," Kelly said. "We began tracking deliveries, which anniversaries were around the corner, the list goes on. From social networking to curbside pick-up for groceries, there are a ton of virtual programs in every aspect of business.”
Beyond serving as a reliable space for business professionals in the area, WeWork will also be expanding its amenities to meet increasing interest in different markets, including college students who attend classes virtually.
“We’ve turned our time and attention to broadening our services to a wider audience,” Kelly said. "Ultimately, we’re trying to help people understand and embrace that WeWork is not returning to its previous status quo.”
Like millions of others, Kelly said she cannot wait to resume a greater sense of normalcy, anticipating the ability to connect with others like a long-awaited family reunion. Before the pandemic, Kelly remembered one particular WeWork member who started a weekly Thursday lunch with his company and often chose a work station in the common area.
“At first, a few teammates would come out and join him, then after a month, a whole group of us gathered at a crowded table to enjoy lunch together and share Netflix recommendations,” Kelly said.
If you're curious and want to learn more, book a free office tour or sign up for a complimentary one-month trial! On Wednesday, April 28, check out the annual WeWork Innovation Summit. A free, virtual event open to the public, hear from WeWork professionals and guest speakers who will explore the realities of a pandemic—and post-pandemic—world.
This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.
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