Not so long ago, we questioned whether the coworking giant WeWork was going through an identity crisis. With WeWork’s various endeavors in different ‘areas’ with no obvious (at least to outsiders) intention, we wonder what’s the underlying issue behind the company’s continued pivots.
Following the launch of their fitness business WeRise and the purchase of Lord & Taylor’s flagship building in 5th avenue, WeWork dropped another shocker: the launch of WeGrow. Bloomberg reported a few days ago that WeWork:
“is making its move into children’s education, launching a private elementary school for ‘conscious entrepreneurship’ inside a New York City WeWork next fall. A pilot program of seven students, including one of the five young children of WeWork Cos. founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann, is underway.”
Welcoming children into coworking spaces is not a new concept. In fact, various operators have tried to find the sweet spot to successfully manage coworking with childcare. Parents, more than anyone, know how hard it can be to actually get work done while looking after children. At the same time, parents want to be relatively close to kids, especially while they’re estill in their early stages of development.
Coworking’s flexible nature made it seem like an obvious match for working parents that needed a day care solution. However, the model turned out to be more challenging than anticipated. While some workspace operators have found a way to make coworking + childcare work, others have tried and failed.
There are some coworking spaces with childcare out there, however the market for this is vast and not yet fully catered to. With this in mind, WeWork’s WeGrow, to a certain extent, is catering to an industry-wide market need: providing working parents with a space where they can get work done and also have their kids nearby.
Alas, WeWork’s recent pivot doesn’t seek to address this particular need for childcare.
Here’s the catch. The workspace provider company is “rethinking the whole idea of what an education means.” The company isn’t hoping to provide parents with the support that they seek with their children; instead, they want to teach kindergarteners how to launch their own business.
Teaching kids to dream big and pursue these dreams is an honorable mission. However there are various theories and opinions out there about which methodology is best when it comes to educating kids. While some may agree with WeGrow’s chosen methodology, some might argue that imposing such a hands-on approach to business at such a young age can be harmful.
Samuel Abrams, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College told Bloomberg that, “WeWork’s very instrumental approach to learning, essentially encouraging kids to monetize their ideas, at that age, is damaging. You’re sucking the joy out of education at a time when kids should just be thinking about things like how plants grow and why there are so many species.”
Is Continued Pivoting Proof Of WeWork’s Overvaluation?
WeWork’s recent and continued pivoting has attracted criticism from various ends. We at Allwork.Space have questioned WeWork’s valuation for some time now, strongly believing that the company is overvalued and is creating a bubble that has started to burst.
These constant ‘innovations’ to WeWork’s original offering lead us to believe that WeWork’s original unique product is struggling to stand out from increased competition in the industry. This has possibly forced them to find new business ventures as a way to justify their overvaluation in the eyes of the public and potentially in the eyes of their investors.
Still, WeWork’s WeGrow is not all bad, and their model might prove to be a useful one for operators seeking to add childcare to their services. It’s well worth examining WeGrow’s structure to see if there’s any hint there that can help operators figure out the logistics and better manage the financial burden of offering a childcare service within