WeWork Defies Headwinds With New Brisbane Digs


WeWork has opened its third Brisbane location with two further co-working offices to follow in Sydney in the next two months.

The co-working giant has opened the doors of its latest office at
123 Eagle Street, in Brisbane’s golden triangle, after taking out an 11-year lease on 4,500sq m of office space across four levels of the Riverside Centre.

The recently refurbished building, which is owned by GPT’s Wholesale Office Fund, comprises 41 levels of office space, as well as waterfront restaurants and open-plaza retail and accommodation.

The new office will be WeWork’s 19th since launching in Australia four years ago and will accommodate up to 900 members.

The expansion follows a turbulent period for the co-working giant after it finally ditched plans in October last year for an IPO.

Following the scuttled IPO, Softbank Group, an early investor in WeWork, withdrew longstanding plans to bail out the stricken co-working operator.

WeWork Brisbane Riverside Centre
▲ WeWork’s new Brisbane digs spans four floors of commercial office space, with a communal lounge, meeting rooms, study nooks and private offices. Image: WeWork

The fragmented co-working sector had the highest growth rate of any tenancy during the past four years, but became one of the hardest hit during the coronavirus crisis, with many tenants cancelling bookings.

For some co-working providers, occupancy has plunged—in some cases to less than 10 per cent—with social distancing forcing people to work from home and many operators temporarily closing facilities or decreasing their operating hours.

The pandemic has also delayed the opening of WeWork’s planned new locations at Sydney’s 320 Pitt Street and 66 King Street, which are now scheduled for September.

WeWork had looked at taking space at 55 Market Street, in Sydney, but did not proceed.

The announcement of newly-added space in Brisbane and new openings in Sydney comes after recent reports revealed WeWork’s Australian subsidiary is relying on payments from its US parent to meet cashflow needs.

Last month, corporate filings revealed WeWork Australia had become dependent on the parent company, the We Company, to meet revenue needs.

WeWork Australia’s net after-tax loss widened during 2019 to
$42.6 million from a $7.2 million loss a year earlier, even as revenue nearly doubled to $89.5 million from $49.1 million.

The company has since reported renewed optimism, with foot traffic across its Brisbane locations moving in the right direction—up 50 per cent week-on-week.

WeWork Australia general manager Balder Tol said that Covid-19 had shifted companies’ thinking on what the future of office work will look like.

“Flexibility has become increasingly valuable as companies around the world rethink their workplace needs,” Tol said.

“Over the last decade we’ve had more than 690,000 members join our community because they recognise the value of flexibility for their workforce—be it remote working, flexible office space or even distributed teams.”

As of July, WeWork said it had more than 12,000 members in
19 open locations across Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.

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