After seeing strong demand from enterprise customers for its shared working spaces in India, WeWork is now ready to move itself into the campus of large companies, helping them design, build and manage their own workspaces.
WeWork India — a joint venture between the US-based co-working giant and Bengaluru-based Embassy Group — has begun working with a few large companies in the country to design and manage their office spaces. These enterprises will also become part of the WeWork network, with their employees getting access to WeWork’s chain of shared working spaces — currently present in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi-NCR.
“We, as a company, have refocused ourselves to cater to larger companies. What we’re seeing now is people saying they don’t just want this experience for a small part but for their entire workforce,” said Karan Virwani, Director at WeWork India. “We are looking at becoming a platform and not just trying to get people into our shared workspaces.” Currently, over 50 per cent of the 10,000 occupants at WeWork’s nine properties in India work for large enterprises.
The company says while some enterprises with a few hundred employees have completely relocated into its shared working spaces, other companies want them to provide the same experience within their own offices. Virwani said WeWork has begun working with a few Indian companies on this¸ without disclosing their names.
Globally, WeWork has offered this service, dubbed ‘Powered by We’ to the likes of Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong and more recently to telecom giant Sprint in the US.
“We use our expertise and scale to help them build it out and get better rates for procurement, and then we would also operate the space. We also would put our community teams in their offices, give their employees the app and when they’re travelling can actually use our other spaces to work out of,” added Virwani.
The business of managing third-party workspaces could become a big business itself for WeWork in India, opening up an additional revenue stream.
Despite this, the company doesn’t plan to slow its own shared working space growth anytime soon.
With nine centres across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, the company is looking to have as many as 20 centres before the end of the current fiscal year. This will allow it to double its base to 20,000 people working out of its workspaces in that timeframe, with a large part of the growth coming in the final two quarters.
After close to a year of operating out of India, WeWork says its visibility for filling up seats at any of the new projects that it is constructing has gone up from three months to almost eight months.
“We already have visibility of 8 months, which means begin speaking to companies that early and even close deals before we open,” said Virwani.
For WeWork, India is one of the fastest growing markets globally, though it is still a much smaller base when compared with the US and Europe. Late last year, the company raised a massive $4.4 billion from SoftBank, out of which $1.4 billion would go into its China, Japan and Pacific (Asia Pacific) subsidiaries.
Virwani says, for now the company is eyeing massive growth and isn’t focusing on overall profitability, though each of its centres that is over six months old is now generating cash which is being ploughed back into growth.