With New York City being the most-populous city with the highest population density in the nation, social distancing isn’t always easy. So it should come at no surprise that the region has quickly become the epicenter of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic.
Is WeWork Open During COVID-19 Pandemic?
In order to slow the spread and transmission, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an shutdown of New York to stave off COVID-19. that went into effect on the evening of Sunday, March 23rd. After Cuomo’s declaration, only “essential businesses” could remain open.
That places real estate/tech startup WeWork in an unusual situation. WeWork provides desks and conference rooms for remote workers, entrepreneurs and other business people, but is that considered “essential” by New York’s standards?
Of course, WeWork thinks they’re essential so they’re staying open. In an email sent by the their Global Security and Safety team sent to New York City members late on Sunday night, the co-working company briefly explains their rationale.
As you know, we have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and have been working around the clock to prioritize the health and safety of our employees and members, while also striving to provide our members with the resources necessary to continue operations.
WeWork is home to many members whose companies are essential businesses to our society – whether they be in healthcare, insurance, cleaning product supplies or others. For that reason, all WeWork locations in the U.S. and Canada will remain open and accessible. In addition, if you are in a location where your state or local government executes an order restricting non-essential business activity, please inform us if your business is essential under that order.
We continue to implement measures in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and government guidance to protect our employees and members around the world, including performing enhanced cleaning across all our locations and suspending events globally.
We are committed to supporting you and we will continuously reassess our plans with you, our members, in mind.
As you may know, WeWork’s CEO tweeted out last week (prior to Cuomo’s announcement) that the company “is a service provide” and “has an obligation to keep out buildings open”
We know the past few weeks have been challenging, to say the least. This is our rationale as it relates to @wework’s COVID-19 approach, and know these decisions are being made with empathy, humanity, and responsibility to all those who depend on us at their core. #wework pic.twitter.com/QutT13ex86
— MarceloClaure (@marceloclaure) March 19, 2020
Is WeWork Essential and Should They Be Open?
There is controversy on whether WeWork is staying open so they can collect rent or do they genuinely believe that they’re providing an essential service to New Yorkers? Among WeWork members that are staying home instead of using their rented spaces, they’re angry they still have to pay rent during a time when it feels unsafe to venture outside.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 couldn’t have come at worse time for WeWork after their well-publicized IPO fiasco, the ousting of their CEO Adam Neumann, and now SoftBank may be backing out of financing the company.
From several threads on WeWork’s app, many of the members believe that WeWork should do the right thing: close their locations down for the greater good and reduce or suspend their rent payment. Here’s a couple posts on their app.
I was willing to wait this out if they did something with my rent for the space I can’t use. They said no. So i told them to cancel. never heard back after being assured someone would contact me.
As for WeWork’s financial condition…. We all know around the IPO time that they couldn’t even lay people off as they didn’t have the money until softbank came in. It was their decision to expand like crazy and take on massive debt at the end of a bull market. Not mine.
At of this post on March 23, 2020 at 12:30 PM, every WeWork location in New York is open (except 214 West 29th St. in Manhattan)