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WeWork announces WeWork Commons, a new pay-as-you-go plan

I caught up with my friend Kakul Srivastava the other day. She’s now working a head of product for WeWork, the largest coworking company. WeWork has locations in nine US cities, and in the UK, Amsterdam, and Israel, and has over 15,000 members.

I knew a little about WeWork, because I had a membership for a few months two years ago when I was working in New York frequently. But when I logged in this morning, I found that the WeWork network has been dramatically improved. I bet that is Kakul’s doing.

But she hadn’t contacted me just to talk about the network: she had other news. WeWork is now supporting a new tier of membership, called WeWork Commons. For $45 per month, Commons members gain access to these benefits:

  • the ability to reserve space — desks, conference rooms, or lounge space — in selected locations in New York, Boston, DC, San Francisco, LA, and Seattle.
  • the opportunity to get discounted services, like health insurance, web hosting, payroll, gym membership, and others.
  • membership in the WeWork community, enabled by the WeWork social network.

I was particularly interested in the health insurance option, because the Freelancers Union has notified its members that it will be getting out of the health insurance business, and as a result freelancers are scurrying to find alternatives (like me). This is another example of a for-fee business filling the economic gap that the government and other institutions — like unions and non-profits — might have filled in earlier times. I’ve written about the freelance worker platforms — like eLance-Odesk, or TaskRabbit — playing a similar role, too (see Let a thousand placeforms connect us, even as we loosen our connections, and Where are the boundaries in a rapidly changing world of business?).

Note that booking rooms and desks is integrated into the network tools.

Screenshot 2014-11-17 10.21.19

The network has features that really help the community connect. As shown in the top post below, the ‘listing’ type of post is designed with specialized replies:  ‘I know someone’ and ‘I can help’.

Screenshot 2014-11-17 10.13.45

Note also that the network is trying to connect me to people with shared interests. The system supports @mentions, as well as direct messaging. You can see me chatting with Kakul, here. Events and listings are accessible by city and building, too.

I think going to enjoy using the network, even if I am only an occasional drop-in. It will make me feel connected to the larger WeWork community, and much more so than I did with the Freelancer’s Union.