The fact that more corporations are leaning towards using flexible office spaces to operate is nothing but good news for a co-working giant like WeWork, however the company has it sights set on doing more than just providing businesses with flexible leasing options, writes Bisnow’s Matthew Rothstein.
After WeWork acquired startups like Teem and Euclid through its umbrella company, The We Company, it developed a platform of workplace tracking technology that breaks down office workers’ movements down to granular levels. While WeWork’s offices are testing Teem and Euclid’s features, it’s expected they’ll soon be part of the toolbox Powered by We’s consulting division is already using.
WeWork designs and manages offices for major companies like UBS in New Jersey and Amazon in England to make them look and feel more like a WeWork by using Powered by We. The company’s tracking technology, which includes motion and thermal sensors, along with Bluetooth pinging, improves these WeWork spaces. According to a Bloomberg article, WeWork Chief Technology Officer Shiva Rajaraman called it “the Google Analytics of space,”
A New York law firm hired Powered by We to determine if it needed more conference room space. The company conducted a test by putting thermal sensors under tables to track how many seats were occupied during a given time frame. The data showed the law firm’s conference rooms could be smaller since they were rarely full.
Meanwhile, Euclid’s software can track cell phones using their media access control (MAC), address, which is unique to each device to monitor users’ movements in the office. While WeWork says it makes the data it collects anonymous, privacy advocates have expressed concern it could be combined with tracking data elsewhere, leading to employees’ privacy being invaded and their identities being revealed.
“The first intended use of a data set is not the only way a data set ends up being used,” workforce advocate Michelle Miller told Bloomberg.
WeWork is using this tracking technology, and Powered by We overall, in an effort to diversify its services and protect itself from a possible slowdown in the co-working industry. Other companies in the industry have followed suit, according to Bisnow. Knotel has recently been in the business of acquisitions and forming partnerships to prepare a blockchain-based property listing system in order to bypass WeWork.
For commercial real estate owners, WeWork’s tracking technology is another reason they can add to list of why it’s important their building has reliable wireless coverage. When WeWork, or any company that offers flexible office space, is deciding on a building in which to operate, it’s going to want assurances that its unique technologies that rely on wireless are going to work consistently. Reliable coverage is part of how companies like WeWork will sell their office space to businesses, and how commercial real estate owners should be able to sell their property to companies like WeWork.