Webinar recap: How hypergrowth companies find office space to scale fast

Author - Vipin Shri

Balancing speed and convenience with employee satisfaction is key

There was a time when good pay and health benefits were enough to attract top talent. But times have changed. Today, employees cite their work environment as a major factor in job satisfaction. And employees rank collaboration at work as the #1 way to fast-track their careers. So creating the right work environment and a culture of collaboration is much more than a nice to have; it’s the new business imperative.

WeWork recently hosted a live webinar featuring execs from hypergrowth companies to discuss how to find space to scale fast. From a revamped headquarters to a satellite office in a new market, our panelists discussed their growing space needs, how to source space, the tradeoffs they considered in selecting an office, and how they’ll approach their next commercial lease based on lessons learned.   

As Senior Sales Director and webinar host Holly Procter explained, “Let’s face it, commercial real estate has always been a slowly evolving industry with obstacles innately built in for companies experiencing hypergrowth. Long-term leases–or as we like to call them long-term leashes—hinder high-growth companies to revamp, build, or move according to their needs.” So how do we remove the friction that currently exists between commercial real estate practices and hypergrowth companies’ needs? We asked the experts to weigh in.

Charlotte Johnson leads the Workplace team at Upwork, a recently-IPO’d company based in San Francisco, CA. Upwork is the world’s largest freelancing website, where hypergrowth companies can find, hire, manage, and pay contractors for web design and development, writing, marketing, customer service, and more. Drawing upon her real estate, facilities management, operations, and brand experience, Charlotte has orchestrated and managed the build-out and design of the company’s 3 offices, injecting its values and culture into each. 

Will Gassenheimer, VP of Global Operations for Remote Year, has been 100% remote for the last 4 years, splitting his time between Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Remote Year takes people who have remote jobs and provides accommodations, travel, workspaces, local support, and programming for programs that last 4, 6, or 12 months. Will’s primary responsibility is to ensure the infrastructure (accommodations and workspaces) in each city is booked and in good quality. Before Remote Year, he worked as a consultant for the Department of Defense, primarily residing in Washington, D.C. 

Both companies scaled their businesses quickly by partnering with WeWork, and also by using resources outside of WeWork. The biggest differentiators between WeWork and traditional methods of sourcing commercial real estate are:

  • No capex: keep your funding rounds for more important things like hiring the right people and continuing to grow
  • As you grow, there are no restrictions on how long you have to stay in your current office – our spaces are built to grow with you
  • The time and money spent being in the middle of multiple vendors and conversations can grow tiresome, WeWork can act as both the frontman and middleman concurrently
  • Our bread and butter is thoughtful design. 9 years and hundreds of locations into our business, we have insights that drive productivity and collaboration and have the in-house expert teams needed to implement them.
4 biggest real estate challenges for hypergrowth companies.

Key takeaways from the webinar

Top 3 space needs of hypergrowth companies:

  • Satellite office space: These are smaller office spaces for regions outside of the HQ location. These offices are built out to reach underserved client areas, expand market share, take advantage of specific talent pools, or simply, to ease the commutes of employees. 
  • Overflow/Swing space: These are spaces that act as temporary work environments for quickly expanding teams, home bases for traveling sales teams, or for permanent offices under construction. 
  • New or revamped HQ: A complete move or revamp of a corporate HQ is often necessary for companies in hypergrowth mode. Logistically and financially, this need is the most complex. 
  • Innovation or design hubs: These are dedicated locations that focus on futurizing an organization. These spaces have goals of building industry-leading products/services and letting creativity thrive.

Top use cases for taking up space in a WeWork large office suite:

  • Fast new market entry
  • Homebase for traveling sales teams
  • Staying authentic in local markets
  • Brand facelift
  • Talent acquisition 
  • Creative inspiration

Top features and amenities that hypergrowth employees request in their offices:

  • Privacy
  • Parking
  • Proximity to public transit
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Access to food vendors– snacks, a kitchen, or lunch delivery
  • Dog-friendly
  • On-site security
  • Entry & exit badging

To learn more tips from Charlotte and Will, watch the full 30 min webinar recording by clicking below.