WeWork, the world's largest network of co-working space, has grown rapidly in the last year to include 27 locations across seven major U.S. cities, London, and Israel (an Amsterdam location will open soon). But the physical expansion is just one piece of the pie. WeWork has recently debuted a virtual membership called WeWork Commons that gives access to WeWork's social network, physical space, and member discounts--all starting at $45 per month with no commitment.
"In 2015, we're not only going to become truly a global company with all the new locations that we're opening, but we're also going to start really growing our community with our Commons members, who will have access to both the digital and physical community," says WeWork CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann.
Since Commons members don't rent dedicated space in a WeWork building, the backbone of their membership is their access to the community's social network, where 16,000 members can connect and interact. While it's still early days since the network's November launch, Neumann says members--especially Commons members--are actively using the platform just as he'd hope they would by helping each other, whether from across the globe or in the very same city or building.
"This is a unique offering for the 'We Generation' who want to be a bit unplugged, they are flexible, they don't commit to physical space, and they like the idea of community," Neumann says. "It's not meant to be an enterprise solution like [Facebook at Work], and it's not meant to be a recruiting solution like LinkedIn is."
The membership also buys varying levels of access to WeWork's physical space, where members can work and attend events. Meanwhile, all levels of Commons members receive group discounts on a growing list of benefits, including healthcare, payroll, legal services, travel, and gym memberships. Savings are significant with partners like UPS, which offers a 32 percent discount on shipping services, and HR solutions company Trinet, which offers 50 percent off on healthcare. In the near future, Neumann says benefits will also include financial services and more lifestyle brands.
"The secret of our success is that we're not coming up with services we want. We're taking a lot of time to talk to our members to figure out what they need and then curating the best services we can find," he says.
So who stands to gain most from a WeWork Commons membership? WeWork has always said its value proposition is its community, not office space. Given the low-barrier price point, Commons makes sense for any early-stage startup, small business, burgeoning entrepreneur or freelancer who can't or does not want to rent physical space but wants to be an active part of WeWork's online community and tap into significant group benefits that they could not otherwise access.
Update: When first published on Jan. 29th, the story reported that WeWork Commons membership started at $15 per month. This membership level was a beta test that is no longer available. A WeWork spokesperson confirmed that those who signed up for the beta $15 per month membership may continue at that rate.