A global company in the business of operating co-working office spaces for startups and small businesses is establishing a major presence in downtown Toronto this summer.
WeWork will take over and extensively renovate a 100-year-old, 70,000-square-foot building at 240 Richmond Street West, creating co-working spaces for up to 1,000 people when fully occupied. There will be hot desks, open common space, glass-enclosed offices, and meeting and event spaces.
“The building has a very large event space so that meet ups and other kinds of entrepreneurship ecosystem groups can use that space to connect and just drive the conversation forward,” Dave McLaughlin, manager for WeWork Toronto, told Daily Hive. “I think that’s an important thing to bring the local community together.”
Also new to Toronto’s co-working office offerings will be a large boardroom with a capacity to seat 20 people. McLaughlin said boardrooms at other co-working spaces tend to be very small, unable to accommodate larger groups for important business meetings involving other parties.
“We built that space because we were told this kind of space is not readily available at other facilities in Toronto,” he said. “When you want to bring larger groups of your customers or a set of your investors, or whatever it may be instead of peers and partners, sometimes you need a big space that is also private.”
All design work and project management for all of WeWork’s new spaces is conducted from the company’s headquarters in New York.
All about community
McLaughlin says WeWork has a dual focus in building community both locally, within the cities it has a presence in, and globally.
“If you think of WeWork as just office space, then you’ll miss most of the value and what’s special about it,” he said. “There is an incredible community of entrepreneurs and business owners and non-profit founders and artists and freelancers who are looking to grow their vision and advance their project.”
There are also ample synergies within its co-working locations to the extent that a “super high rate” of collaboration exists; members support each other and help each other grow faster, according to the company.
“It’s not just a space feature, it’s a rich community that is collaborative and helps people grow faster,” said McLaughlin.
WeWork was founded just seven years and has rapidly developed a global scale with 130 locations across 30 cities around the world, providing working spaces for 100,000 members. It plans to open 10 new locations over the coming months.
The first Canadian location opened in Montreal in 2016 with spaces for 1,200 people, and another office with space for 1,500 people will be coming to Vancouver this fall.
Approximately 600 events, including major social and wellness gatherings, are produced at its offices around the world on a weekly basis, allowing members to connect with other members and further expand their network.
WeWork’s fastest growing group of members are Global 2000 companies. In fact, approximately 20% of Fortune 500 companies have a presence in WeWork.