Its meteoric rise in the notoriously cyclical commercial real estate industry also raises a troubling question, with broader implications beyond the fate of one company: What happens when a recession hits, or if WeWork falls?
The dynamic tech and creative companies that have flocked to WeWork for its flexible terms have helped power Boston’s explosive growth, and serve as a bellwether for the broader economy.
Any decline in their fortunes may show up in empty desks at WeWork long before it hits the city’s towers of more traditional office space, making the co-working operator a newfangled canary in the economic coal mine.
Corporate tenants to whom WeWork increasingly leases satellite office space may find they have room to spare again at headquarters.
Because WeWork’s business model isn’t based on the traditional 10-year office lease, with many tenants renting month-to-month, those bustling, hip work spaces could empty out fast.
She’s cofounder of coUrbanize, an online real estate startup that first moved into a WeWork 18 months ago and has switched offices several times since it has grown.
Amazon, Liberty Mutual, and General Electric have based some of their Boston employees in WeWork spaces, and the company is designing many of its newer locations to lure tenants that might rent a whole floor, as shoemaker Puma did at a WeWork office on Arch Street while it builds a new headquarters in Somerville.