WeWork’s appeals include everything from craft beer on tap to apps that connect its tenants, who the company refers to as members. Artwork in its first co-working space in Toronto includes a Drake-inspired neon praying-hand sign with the number six beside it. The piece marks the entrance to the sixth floor — and is a nod to Toronto’s 416 area code that the singer, one of the city’s biggest boosters, often references.
While these might be considered perks that would draw hip millennials, WeWork’s members include not just entrepreneurs but also big firms such as Royal Bank of Canada, Shopify Inc. and Equifax Inc that may be looking for temporary or spillover space.
“Part of what we sell, and part of what’s so inspiring for people is the sense that they like coming in to work,” McLaughlin said. “That’s hard to capture, but it’s real and it’s essential to what we do and why people love what we do.”
WeWork charges an average of $1,000 (Canadian) per month for one-seat offices in Toronto compared with $700 to $1,000 (U.S.) in Manhattan, while desks in Toronto can go for $450 to $700 (Canadian).
WeWork plans to open two more locations in the city in 2018, recently announcing 1 University Ave., in the downtown core for a total of about 3,200 desks in the city. “The demand for that location has been really strong, and we’re seeing people already signing up,” McLaughlin said.
WeWork usually partners with office landlords for leases of about 15 years. It’s also begun to purchase buildings, buying Lord & Taylor’s iconic building in Manhattan from Hudson’s Bay Co. last year for $850 million (U.S.). As part of the deal, WeWork will also lease some space in Hudson’s Bay department stores in Canada, including its flagship store on Toronto’s Queen St.
While WeWork has no specific targets in Toronto, acquisitions are a possibility in the future, McLaughlin said.
“I can feel the energy and potential and activity that’s going on there. It feels so dynamic and alive,” McLaughlin said.