WeWork Brazil bets on flexible workstations to tackle the crisis

In May, WeWork announced the closing of two offices in Rio de Janeiro

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  • After closing offices in Rio de Janeiro, American real estate startup WeWork has expanded to more offices in Brazil and bets on flexible workstations to combine with the home-office behavior;
  • The company developed a return to work plan focusing on adjustments in the design of shared spaces, new cleaning measures; and signaling to avoid crowds in corridors and common areas.

New York-based WeWork has been stealing the scene on the global startup ecosystem in the past year or so. Not only the real-estate company pulled plans for an IPO last year and faced devaluations, but had SoftBank withdrawing its $3 billion offer for the startup’s shares and rounds of layoffs. In Brazil, however–where the company ceased two out of five offices in Rio de Janeiro–WeWork is optimistic about the future.

“We reiterate that the recent decision to close two of our units in Rio de Janeiro does not compromise our business in the city and in Brazil, a very important market for WeWork,” Lucas Mendes, general director of WeWork in Brazil told the local media outlet Suno. In the country, the company also has locations in Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, and São Paulo.

Focusing on offering solutions to large companies, the startup bets on more flexible workstations, in combination with the home-office. “We see here a great potential so that we can meet the demand of large companies (which now represent more than half of our customers) in this sense – in the same way that we have been working for companies that, even before forced isolation, already had policies more flexible working conditions,” he said.

In Colombia, WeWork seems to be on the same path, as general manager for the country Karen Scarpetta stressed both decentralization and flexibility as the future of work.

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“We understand that, in the current scenario, the flexibility factor will become an increasingly important value with regard to workspaces.” According to Mendes, what companies are prioritizing right now is precisely the flexibility to bring their employees back to work safely, respecting the timing of each region. “Another point is the issue of geographic distribution, so that companies are not tied to just one building and employees can work closer to their homes,” he pointed out.

With 828 offices globally and more than 100 in China, the exec says that WeWork has been able to learn from the way local teams handled the pandemic to set new standards for returning to offices. “WeWork developed a return to work plan, with implementation planned in all of its units as the governments of each country initiate actions to resume economic activities.”

Focused on three main points, this plan relies on professional distance, with adjustments in the design of shared spaces, staggered seats and empty areas; improvement on hygiene and cleaning measures; as well as signaling to avoid crowds in corridors and common areas.

According to Mendes, during March and April, WeWork started operations in three offices: one in Rio de Janeiro, and two in São Paulo. The company also expanded another office and opened two others in June, also in the state of São Paulo.

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