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Chris Kane

Creative Places Place Making

A  collision  of  two colossi?

I am always filled with awe, every time I get the opportunity to walk through  the  hallowed  portals  of  The  Mother  of  Parliaments, However, last week there was another reason to be awestruck; since I was attending and event hosted by WeWork at the Palace of Westminster, for the launch of a CEBR report on their economic impact  on London.

 

Given my interests in spaces and places  I couldn’t help by being struck by the contrast between the Palace of Westminster, the chosen setting for the event and the hip culture of WeWork. The venerable 900-year-old institution, the bastion of  democracy and tradition versus this 8-year-old ‘new kid on the block’ upstart outfit, which is causing such shock waves throughout the property sector.

 

One of the interesting points that the CEBR’s WeWork London Economic Impact Report raises is: how are we going to navigate the future of work  and what part do cities play towards this new economy, which should uplift all people and communities? This is probably one of the most important questions of our time and one that we should all ask ourselves.

 

In its report the CEBR has analysed the impact WeWork has on the individuals, businesses,  neighbourhoods, communities and by extension on the city.

 

  • 81% of  WeWork’s members in London credit the company with improving  their business’s productivity.

 

  • A survey of WeWork’s London members reports a 34% increase in revenue  growth after joining WeWork.  With revenue rising three times faster than costs  during the same time.

 

  • WeWork members report an average increase of 8 new hires since joining  WeWork.

 

  • A third of members said that other WeWork members had given them ideas on  how to improve their

 

As I was listening Miguel McKelvey, one of WeWork’s two founders  I was impressed  by his approach to leading his organisation, as he declared, “We are all in this together”  – and not just the founders.

 

Miguel certainly seems to  practice what he preaches, in that he was very amenable and engaging with those who approached him wanting to chat. Unusually, there wasn’t the customary phalanx of minders and special advisors which flock around senior leaders, which made him easily accessible.

 

What makes WeWork even more extraordinary and revolutionary aside from providing workspaces for businesses, is their ethos of supporting community and services in fostering forward-thinking start-ups around the world. Their global Creator Awards have awarded millions to over 200 winners globally since the pitch contest was established last year, including 31 British and Irish winners.

 

Their London 2018 Creator Awards took place the following evening. More than 4,000 people came together to watch Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher, founder Miguel McKelvey together with a panel of high-profile judges, award £1 million to fund innovative UK businesses and non-profit ventures alike. This gave me pause for thought – what landlord gives away £1m to their tenants?

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