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在WeWork工作的吸引力

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2017年12月11日

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It is a company that did not exist eight years ago but was valued at nearly $20bn this year. Its chief executive is 38 years old and looks like a nightclub DJ. His wife is the chief brand officer, a yoga fiend who doubtless had a hand in the company’s mission statement: “We get shit done and we get it done well.”

这是一家8年前还不存在的公司,但今年的估值高达近200亿美元。它的首席执行官38岁,看上去像是一个夜店的音乐节目主持人。他的妻子是首席品牌官,是一个疯狂的瑜伽爱好者,她肯定参与拟定了该公司的使命宣言:“我们搞定烂事,而且做得出色。”

This is WeWork, the shared office outfit that has grown from a single building in Manhattan in 2010 into a hipster hot-desking behemoth with more than 170 sites in 19 countries and 58 cities, from Beijing to Bogotá.

它就是WeWork,这家共享办公公司已从2010年曼哈顿的一栋单体建筑变成在19个国家58个城市(从北京到波哥大)拥有170多个办公地点的巨擘,为时髦人士提供共享办公空间。

I have taken almost no notice of its rise until now, except for its extraordinary $20bn valuation — and the growing band of sceptics who think that figure makes no sense. They may be right. Documents leaked to Bloomberg last year suggest the privately held company slashed its profit forecasts for 2016 from $65m to $14m. Yet in the past few weeks, as I have bumped into more and more people who have moved into one of its offices, I have decided that WeWork is doing something interesting to modern corporate life.

直到最近以前,我几乎没注意到它的崛起,除了它不同寻常的200亿美元估值——而越来越多的怀疑者认为这个数字毫无道理。他们可能是对的:去年泄露给彭博(Bloomberg)的文件显示,这家私有公司将其2016年利润预测从6500万美元下调至1400万美元。然而,过去几周,我碰到越来越多的人走入它的办公空间之一,这让我觉得,WeWork正在做一些让现代办公生活变得有趣的事情。

The first hint came from a friend at an international non-profit group in Washington who found herself in a WeWork office with a hairdresser and meditation instructor on tap, along with the free roasted coffee and an open-door policy for dogs that are standard for the company.

第一个迹象来自在华盛顿一家全球非营利组织工作的朋友,在她去的那个WeWork办公场所,发型师和冥想教练随叫随到,还有免费烘培咖啡和对宠物狗的开放政策,这些都是这家公司的标配。

She was as enthusiastic as the boss of a London tech start-up with staff in Buenos Aires, where there was a waiting list to get even a hot desk at WeWork — a haven of transparent pricing and instant wifi in a city used to rising rents and power blackouts.

和她一样感到振奋的是伦敦一家科技初创企业的老板,该公司有一部分员工在布宜诺斯艾利斯,在那里,在WeWork获得一个共享办公工位甚至要排队;在租金日益高涨且经常停电的布宜诺斯艾利斯,WeWork提供了一个定价透明且无线连接顺畅的安全港。

I am all in favour of anything that makes office life less sterile and more human, especially if it is also more functional. But it was the people from the much larger companies starting to use WeWork who really made me think, such as Jonathan Kini, chief executive of the retail wing of Drax, owner of the UK’s biggest power station.

我支持所有让办公室生活变得不那么刻板、多一点人性的东西,特别是在它也更具功能性的情况下。但真正促使我深思的是,规模更大公司的员工也开始使用WeWork,例如英国最大发电站Drax旗下零售公司的首席执行官乔纳森•基尼(Jonathan Kini)。

Drax has a perfectly good corporate office near the Bank of England in the City of London. But when Mr Kini’s division needed more space, he nabbed a private office in the WeWork building up the road. Having had a snoop around it with one of the older Drax workers, who admitted he often felt as if he were the only one there wearing socks, I could see the attraction. It was not just the craft beer bars and designer sofas scattered around the bare wood floors. Nor the rows of private phone booths that I would not mind in my own open-plan office. It was the video screens on the walls pitching the wares of other tenants.

Drax在伦敦金融城(City of London)英国央行(Bank of England)附近有一栋非常棒的办公大楼。但当基尼的部门需要更多空间时,他在同一条街的WeWork大楼租下了一个专用办公场所。在与Drax的一名老员工一起看了那里的环境后(他承认,他经常感觉自己好像是那里唯一穿袜子的人),我看到了其中的吸引力。这里吸引人的地方不只是手工酿造啤酒吧和实木地板上散布的设计师沙发。也不是我觉得在我自己的开放式办公室里也应该有的成排的私密电话隔间。真正吸引人的是墙上那些推销其他租户产品和服务的屏幕。

Drax’s staff may not need to know about the digital marketing start-ups who were advertising on those screens the day I visited. But if they did, they had only to pad around the corner to find them. So can employees from HSBC’s small businesses division who moved into a nearby London WeWork office nearly a year ago. “That’s something you don’t get in a normal corporate office,” said their boss, Richard Bearman.

Drax的员工可能不需要了解在这些屏幕上做广告的数字营销初创企业。但如果他们想了解的话,他们只要信步走过一个拐角就能找到他们。同样,近一年前搬到附近的伦敦WeWork办公室的汇丰银行(HSBC)小企业部门的员工也可以。他们的老板理查德•贝尔曼(Richard Bearman)表示:“在普通的公司办公室里你是得不到这样的便利的。”

He likes the way the village-like atmosphere means people from younger companies in the building can knock on HSBC’s glass door for a chat.

他喜欢这种村落式的氛围,大楼里的较年轻公司的人可以随时推开汇丰的玻璃门洽谈一番。

He thinks the bank’s staff are trusted more by potentially important new customers than if they were sitting behind a computer in a typical branch office. It also helps the bank to know how newer outfits are working. In an age of relentless disruption, I can see the appeal for older companies of being closer to start-ups doing the disrupting, and vice versa.

他认为,与坐在典型的分行办公室电脑后面相比,在这里的汇丰员工更有可能得到潜在重要新客户的信赖。在这里落户还有助于该行了解新的企业如何工作。在无情颠覆的当今时代,老牌公司与有意颠覆的初创企业更加接近,我能看出这种安排对双方的吸引力。

Places like WeWork are obviously not for everyone. I know a lot of people who would be appalled at the idea of working in a building full of strangers from other businesses, especially if they had to dodge a dog on the way to their desk. Personally, I am very happy to work in a place that keeps the outside world at bay, though I would be even happier if it had dogs.

WeWork等场所显然并不适用于所有人。我知道,很多人会被在一个满是来自其他公司的陌生人的大楼中工作而吓坏,特别是如果他们在走向自己的办公桌时不得不躲避一条狗。个人来讲,我非常乐意在一个与外部世界隔绝的环境中工作,不过如果有狗的话我就更开心了。

Still, I am not surprised that WeWork says companies with more than 1,000 workers are one of its fastest-growing segments and now account for more than 20 per cent of its membership.

然而,我并不感到意外的是:WeWork表示,员工超过1000人的公司是该公司增长最快的市场板块,现在占其会员总数的20%以上。

Like a lot of today’s lavishly funded US start-ups, it is easy to imagine it faltering. But I doubt the less insular and more eventful form of office life it is creating will be a passing fad.

就像当今很多得到慷慨融资的美国初创企业一样,我们很容易想象它会衰落。但我不认为,它创造的那种不那么与世隔绝且更加多姿多彩的办公室生活会是昙花一现。

[email protected] 译者/梁艳裳
 


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