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WeWork tweaks plans for ‘Office On Demand’

Covid dealt a near knockout blow to office working, but WeWork believes it can still thrive

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A rendering of WeWork's plans for offices space at Central Plaza, Dublin

A rendering of WeWork's plans for offices space at Central Plaza, Dublin

Mathieu Proust - general manager of WeWork UK and Ireland

Mathieu Proust - general manager of WeWork UK and Ireland

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A rendering of WeWork's plans for offices space at Central Plaza, Dublin

Dublin has shown “strong performance” for desk and office space giant WeWork despite challenges over the past two years, said its general manager for Ireland and the UK.

The company is gearing up to open its next major space in the city at Central Plaza, the former site of the Central Bank on Dame Street, which is expected to be completed before year’s end. WeWork will open its space in the building in the second quarter of 2022, Mathieu Proust told the Sunday Independent.

Along with the uncertainty the pandemic has wrought on office real estate, WeWork has been contending with a great deal of change following its failed IPO attempt and the exit of founder Adam Neumann.

It has since undergone a restructuring and is planning to go public through a merger with a blank cheque company. In a bid to entice workers back to the office environment, WeWork is rolling out a new on-demand product for two locations in Dublin.

Companies are plotting their post-Covid office strategies, which may include a hybrid style where employees work from home and occasionally come into an office. WeWork will allow customers to book meeting rooms and desks by the hour or by the day, alongside its traditional monthly plans.

Proust said the roll-out is at two locations, North Wall Quay and Charlemont Street. It has four locations in the city.

“We know that the new normal is something that some people call hybrid working, some people call flexibility and I think it depends on every company, so we have been helping our members to define what the new model is,” Proust said.

“Some companies have decided that they might work only one or two days a week [in an office] and in this kind of case, some people like the idea of booking per the hour or per the day.”

The service, called On Demand, was initially rolled out in the US and is now being launched in some buildings in the UK as well.

The traditional monthly model is still WeWork’s “core competence”, Proust added, but the company needed to make these tweaks to reflect the changing attitudes towards offices.

Proust said WeWork’s Dublin spaces have been reconfigured for Covid guidelines but it will not require members to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter the buildings. Masks are required in common areas.

Companies hoping to bring staff back to base in September and October are now contending with the highly contagious Delta variant that is casting doubt on the next stages of re-opening.

The Government is expected to unveil the next phase of re-opening soon, which may provide renewed guidance for employers on office working.

In the US, some major companies, including Amazon and Apple, have postponed the large-scale return of workers to their offices until January 2022 due to rising Covid-19 cases.

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