Despite national headlines that question WeWork’s staying power, a second Kansas City location signals light at the end of the tunnel for the coworking giant.
“The expectation of the workforce is changing,” Erik Wullschleger, WeWork community director, explained during a Startland News tour of the newly opened space, which occupies the third and fourth floors of Kansas City’s famed Lightwell building and offers room for larger, more mature teams.
Click here to read more about the history of the Lightwell building and what’s to come when the project’s 21st-century redevelopment and reboot is unveiled later this year.
“It’s a ’60s-style building that’s going to have a modern feel,” Wullschleger detailed as he stepped out of WeWork’s third floor and walked across a bridge that connects the space to a second building, soon to feature a restored lightwell and dramatic, multi-story waterfall-like staircase.
From two-person offices to private suites that hold teams of 15 and boast their own conference space, to a private wing with two stories and capacity to house more than 85 workers, there’s something for everyone at WeWork Lightwell, explained Wullschleger and Claire Inman, community manager.
“People ask us all the time, ‘Who are you guys competing against?’ and you know, it’s natural to look at Plexpod or Industrious … there’s a ton of boutique, coworking firms here in Kansas City,” Wullschleger said, noting each space is at war with the same thing: traditional real estate and the allure of a home office.
“When you talk about amenities, those are what draw people off their couch or out of their home office,” said Wullschleger, noting the right balance of amenities and paying attention to the evolving needs of customers is where such a war is won.
“The thing that doesn’t change is people want to be around other people. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single, sole proprietor or a team of 80, you want to be around others.”
Finding the perfect balance of community is at the center of WeWork Lightwell’s design, Wullschleger and Inman noted as they walked the nearly 100,000-square-foot space, offering insight into its aesthetic.
Click here to schedule a tour of WeWork Lightwell.
“It’s the same model and the same cultural ethos [as WeWork Corrigan Station], but with bigger common areas, bigger lounges and bigger conference rooms,” Wullschleger said, noting the space’s large kitchens, each dominated by a massive dining table — designed to invite collaboration — and stocked with everything from cold brew coffee to a variety of on-tap kombucha offerings.
“Interestingly enough, alcohol is something that we’ve slowly kind of phased out — and not for the reasons you think,” he noted, offering a glimpse at how WeWork amenities have evolved since the opening of its Corrigan Station location in 2017.
“People want this to be a serious work environment. If a customer walks in and they see beer taps, they kind of get nervous,” Wullschleger said. “I’d say [free flowing alcohol] maybe was a stigma of coworking spaces early on and it’s starting to shift a little bit to healthy things like kombucha.”
As the needs of the Kansas City coworking population change, WeWork’s metro locations hope to grow with them for years to come, he added.
“A lot of the members that we’ve signed in this space already are larger businesses that have grown up in coworking, but they say [things like,] ‘I want to feel like an adult,’ in terms of the business. And that’s what this is going to be great for,” Wullschleger said of the impact WeWork Lightwell could have on area startups.