Everything you need to know about WeWork in 2024

Once upon a time, WeWork was the future of modern workspaces. But with substantial doubts about the company's profitability, is it a good choice for SMEs?

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

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November 2023: WeWork files for bankruptcy in the US

On Monday November 6, WeWork issued a statement confirming it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New Jersey, US, after warning investors over “substantial doubts” about its future back in August.

In an email seen by Startups, WeWork CEO Dave Tolley described the filing as a “proactive decision to commence a strategic reorganisation process to best position the company for future success.” He has said it will not impact WeWork members in the UK. The statement also confirmed that:

  • WeWork spaces will remain open and operational in the UK to ensure business continuity.
  • Membership agreements will not be impacted by the process
  • WeWork will communicate with members while it works with landlords to negotiate its leases

Find out more > WeWork reportedly files for bankruptcy

WeWork was once one of the real estate industry’s biggest names. But it’s had a huge fall from grace since a failed initial public offering (IPO) in 2019. Reputational controversies have coincided with a dramatic decline in value. In August, the company admitted to “substantial doubts” over its ability to stay afloat, causing shares to drop significantly.

Appetite for coworking spaces is at an all-time high, as the real estate sector caters to big post-pandemic priorities such as flexible office space and shorter leases. But WeWork's meteoric rise, followed by a humiliating loss of face, has tarnished the brand, leaving many entrepreneurs concerned about the security of its business model.

The below guide will take you through the true state of WeWork in 2024, as well as help you to understand the alternative workspaces and options available, so you can decide on a coworking space that is truly the best for your small business – rather than the just biggest name you’ve heard of.

Looking to save time? If you’d like a helping hand with finding your ideal flexible office space, we’ve designed a simple cost comparison form to give you tailored quotes from providers across the UK, so you can find the right solution for your region.

WeWork Alternatives

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Regus Business Lounge

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Creative Works

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£125 per month

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£60 per month

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From £65 + VAT per month (subject to location)

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£130 per month

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£80 + VAT per month

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WeWork Spinningfields Manchester (1)
Free alternatives to WeWork

Office costs can be one of a company's biggest expenses. But did you know there's a way to avoid spending ANY money on your workspace?

See the top free coworking spaces in London.

What is the state of WeWork in 2024?

Founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in 2010, WeWork’s “Do What You Love” ethos appeared to be ushering in a new era of office working focused on modern, open common spaces and a sense of community. By 2021, it had established over 800 locations worldwide.

Around 40% of WeWork clients are large or enterprise clients, but 80% of its space is used by small or individual businesses. WeWork’s website currently claims to provide thousands of UK startups with “dynamic environments for creativity, focus, and connection”.

WeWork has fallen short on this ambition – in part, due to the impact of COVID-19, which hit the commercial premises industry hard. Having lost millions as membership fees dried up, WeWork's property portfolio has since depleted, with the provider announcing it would close 40 locations in late 2022.

Adding to woes has been a series of PR disasters. Over the past couple of years, the media has showcased a much less flattering portrayal of WeWork than the company has self-evangelised. In August, WeWork senior leaders warned they had “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue”, causing the company's stock valuation fell by 24%.

Then, on October 31st, reports came that the company was planning to file for bankruptcy in the US state of New Jersey. It did so one week later, on Monday November 6.

Following the news members were sent an email, seen by Startups, that sought to reassure that their membership agreements would not be impacted by the change. However, as WeWork begins negotiations with landlords, members should stay alert to any changes the company might have planned for UK offices.

Compare quotes from the top office providers. Are you currently in an office space? Get the best deal in just one minute.

Where did WeWork go wrong?

If you’re a small business owner debating whether to sign a contract with WeWork for flexible coworking space, there is important context you should know before making your decision.

Profitability? Never heard of it.

Following a meteoric rise to success, WeWork attempted to go public. Big time. In August 2019, it filed an IPO that was valued at a huge $47 billion (around £34.5 billion).

After the filing, concerns were raised about just how accurate that valuation was. The company didn’t seem to be making much profit. It rented extremely high-cost properties across the globe, and yet was subletting them out for a comparatively low cost.

Quickly, the launch was delayed, and the valuation steadily dropped. In April 2023, WeWork's global shares were trading at £0.38 and a market cap of $345.7 million (around £227m). That means the company has lost some £34.2 billion in value over four years — a rapid demise that hasn't done much to raise investor confidence.

WeWork in a toxic environment

Also in 2019, it emerged that WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann had instilled a toxic culture at the company during his tenure. Multiple lawsuits for alleged race discrimination and sexual harrassment were filed against the company, the latter of which claimed to have been enabled by what court documents described as “an entitled frat-boy culture that permeates from the top down”.

Such high-profile criticism shed new light on Neumann, with further allegations of eccentric behaviour and drug use being referenced. SoftBank, WeWork’s main investor, paid Neumann £1.24 billion to step down and sever all ties with the firm. He did so in October 2019.

Questions about accountability

Alongside deceiving shareholders and risking staff safety, WeWork also hasn't always been fair to its members. The brand was criticised for charging individual offices full rent in the pandemic. Because SMEs could not afford to pay for a building they were not actually using, many were sent into debt.

Long-term leases also dropped, as a growing number of companies moved towards a hybrid working model, and thousands of tenants halted their payments.

WeWork is by no means in its death throes, despite this onslaught of setbacks and bad press. It is still a coworking giant, with half a million users across the world, so it’s not accurate to refer to a ‘demise’ just yet. Membership also grew by 17% in 2023, despite the controversies.

However, it’s unclear just how much longer WeWork can continue from a position of security, in light of its spiralling debt. Last month, Reuters reported the company had struck deals to extend the due dates of notes in an attempt to strengthen cash flow.

How much does WeWork cost?

For a WeWork desk in London, prices start at around £285 per month. Pricing for a private office shoots upwards from here to £450 per month.

These costs have been estimated from speaking to current WeWork members. That's because WeWork fees are opaque compared to rivals like Regus. While they are both global providers, the latter charges a flat rate across three payment tiers. WeWork, in comparison, does not share its prices publicly.

The prices of WeWork’s higher-tiered payment plans are more difficult to estimate as there is greater variation in team sizes. However, for an office suite, tenants should expect to pay around £1,000-£1,500 per month.

Large-scale businesses are the target audience for full-floor offices, which afford the greatest amount of flexibility and even include personalised branding. The Full-Floor Office plan is only purchasable as an annual subscription, and would likely set you back by around £3,000 per month.

Are there any discounts available?

New members can get up to three months free on private offices (for 2-11 people). However, you will need to commit to a minimum membership of 12 months to get this offer.

What is the WeGrowth campus?

One of WeWork’s initiatives for startup users is its WeWork Growth Campus, which it describes as “a £15 million investment in space and resources specifically aiming to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UK.”

All startup members can apply to the WeWork growth camp to get access to expert advice and mentorship. Through the programme, startups can also easily locate products and services to enable growth.

WeWork All Access

This plan has the greatest amount of flexibility for teams that have freelancers or staff members in multiple locations. For a set amount each month, you'll be able to visit multiple WeWork locations without being charged anything extra.

Users have access to conference rooms, hot desks and private offices worldwide, as well as shared amenities and communal areas within the buildings. There are has payment tiers: Basic and Plus.

  • WeWork All Access Basic offers limited access to up to nine WeWork locations including three coworking spaces in Manchester and four locations in London. This plan does not cover any other UK cities for coworking space.
  • WeWork All Access Plus offers global access to every WeWork location – including coworking space in Birmingham. It's the best choice for those with employees based overseas. 24/7 access is also permitted in some locations.

How much does WeWork All Access cost?

WeWork All Access is a monthly membership plan, so you can sign up quickly and leave just as easily. It can be purchased as either an Individual or Teams option – the latter of which is designed for 10+ members.

At the moment there is a special introductory rate for new members which offers a discount for the first three months. In this initial period:

  • WeWork All Access Basic will cost £199 plus VAT, per member, per month. After five months, the amount rises to £220 per member, per month
  • WeWork All Access Plus will cost £269 plus VAT, per member, per month. After five months, the amount rises to £359 per member, per month

For context, Regus Business Lounge offers members monthly access to all of its locations across the UK for just £99 per member, per month.

WeWork On Demand

This solution is best-suited to sole traders or hybrid workers, and is built around a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

ONS figures from May 2021 show that, post-pandemic, 85% of home working adults want to use a “hybrid” approach of both home and office working in future. So, if your employees are only looking to work from an office for half of the week, the On Demand plan will save you buckets in comparison to monthly memberships.

Users can download the WeWork On Demand app and book a shared workspace or a meeting room without a monthly subscription. The service applies to over 285 workspaces across 50+ major cities. You can check availability online.

How much does WeWork on Demand cost?

Access to a hot desk starts from £25 a day, while meeting rooms are bookable for £15 per person, per hour. For context, Regus charges £169 per month for ten days in a shared workspace, and £109 per month for five days.

How do WeWork costs compare to competitor costs?

As the UK dances along a cliff edge of a recession and economic recovery, resources are thin and need to be managed smartly. That's why many business owners choose to invest in a serviced office.

Simultaneously, however, the rising rate of inflation has caused a cost of living crisis that has been difficult for companies to navigate while supporting their employees.

Coworking costs can be very expensive – which is why budget is now one of the biggest considerations for small businesses.

Will coworking save me money?

Kat Patterson is the managing director of Art of the Possible Agency, which is based at coworking venue Venture X Chiswick Park. Patterson said: “I think when you add up the cost of having an independent office (insurance, rates, heating, security, keys, reception, cleaners, printers, etc.) and the level of support you get, [coworking spaces] are incredibly good value.

“My clients love coming into the office and all of the team make them feel really welcome. We also have access to a variety of meeting rooms, parking, and resources that we wouldn’t otherwise have at this stage.”

Is WeWork a cheap coworking option?

In short, no. In fact, WeWork is one of the most expensive coworking providers for small businesses – particularly if you’re based outside of London.

Its pricing is also not very transparent compared to rivals like Regus, which has clear payment packages published on its website.

In its failed initial IPO, WeWork reported total rental costs for its 800+ global properties to be £13,196 billion. Perhaps due to these vast running costs, the prices that WeWork charges its tenants are far from competitive.

Here’s a quick breakdown of WeWork’s costs for one month, and how they compare to four typical competitors in the UK coworking market:*

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WeWork

Use.Space

Huckletree Ancoats

Beehive Lofts

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Multiple

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Thirsk Street

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Ancoats

Location(s):

Ancoats

Membership cost:

Est. £285 per person

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£199 + VAT

Membership cost:

£325 + VAT per person

Membership cost:

£285 per person

*Prices are based on dedicated desks in a Manchester office. All prices are accurate to May 2023.

After a cheap coworking space? Read our guide to the best cheap coworking spaces in London.

What are the best UK WeWork alternatives for SMEs?

The world is currently in a coworking boom thanks to the advent of flexible working, which has accelerated businesses’ desire for hybrid work environments and less rigid rental contracts.

As a result, there are many smaller coworking companies cropping up in cities across the UK, opening up lots of regional market competition. Whether you’re based in Bristol or Aberdeen, we recommend you research local coworking spaces in your area to find the best option for your small firm.

Luckily, our experts have been monitoring the sector since before WeWork’s conception. Below, we’ve picked out what we think are some of the best coworking providers, nationally.

Find Coworking Space Near You

Research is the most time-consuming part of finding the best provider. Thankfully, we’ve done the work for you, designing a simple online form for you to compare costs and find your coworking diamond in the rough.

1. Regus

Regus coworking space Manchester (1)

Regus is owned by IWC plc – the largest global provider for flexible coworking spaces, with around 3,000 spaces in 120 locations – and is one of its most famous operating brands.

Like WeWork, Regus has conference rooms, designated desks, and kitchen areas. There are private and teams-based office options, and business support is enabled through networking events.

However, compared to WeWork, Regus is larger and more profitable. That means it's a safer bet for small businesses wanting an office space they can commit to for more than six months.

In terms of value for money, Regus also dramatically outperforms WeWork, costing around £30 less for its full-time, coworking plan. For £255, you'll have access to a designated desk as well as a lounge and reception area. Here are the other plans available:

Lounge Coworking Office
Price per personFrom £125 per monthFrom £319 per monthFrom £535 per month
Price per person (10 days per month)N/AFrom £205 per monthFrom £345 per month
Price per person (5 days per month)N/AFrom £139 per monthFrom £205 per month
What do Regus users have to say?

Paul Lindsell is managing director at ThoughtSpark, a marketing agency. Lindsell told us: “As a marketing agency, we have to have a presence in Central London as a convenient node for both staff and clients. We looked at various options and the best deal was Regus in W2. The facilities are smart, central, easily accessible for our people and clients flying in from abroad. WeWork and others offered trendy add-ons – beer in the fridge, ‘brainstorm spaces’, and so on – but we just wanted a smart location and good service.

“The flexibility means that we can scale access to the Regus workcentre for our changing workforce at just a month’s notice. The whole process is easy – having easy back-office processes to scale up and down is not something many SMEs think of, but it’s been invaluable to us.”

2. Spaces

Spaces coworking

Acquired by IWG in 2015, Spaces still operates as a separate brand. In terms of what makes it different, Spaces can generally be described as the more creative brother of Regus. As well as general office space, it also boasts specialist facilities for artists, entrepreneurs, startups and ‘digital nomads’.

Users choose from a variety of plans offering office space and coworking memberships, as well as meeting rooms and designated desks. Like Regus, these cost around £255 per person, per month. Hybrid plans are also available for those who only want use an office some of the time. For those users, prices start at £109 per person for five days a month in the office, or £169 per person for 10 days a month.

As well as trendier, more design-focused properties, Spaces also offers a virtual office plan from £61 per month. This provides you with a business address and also means you can access mail handling and telephone answering services – a smart idea for startups that are looking to scale but aren’t in need of an office just yet.

3. Spacemade

Spacemade

Spacemade’s USP is also what makes it a much more affordable option compared to WeWork: it operates as a partner to building owners, enabling them to transform forgotten buildings into individual and vibrant workspaces.

Because of this, the majority of its locations are based outside of Central London, concentrating on the cheaper suburban belt of the city. It also has coworking options available in Leeds and Bristol.

Founded just four years ago, Spacemade featured as one of our top 100 Startups for 2021 thanks to its impressive market disruption and smart operation style. With prices starting from £199 for a dedicated desk, Spacemade is a great way to get around expensive brands such as WeWork.

Compare quotes from the top office providers. Are you currently in an office space? Get the best deal in just one minute.

Conclusion – should you use WeWork in 2023?

Signing a contract with WeWork does not necessarily need to bring fear into the hearts of small business owners. There are benefits that come with the WeWork brand, such as its SME-focused ‘WeGrowth’ campus. Plus, plenty of flexible payment choices mean it can be a particularly cost-effective method of working for SMEs.

However, despite the company’s famous glass walls, WeWork has been anything but transparent in the past few years, and there are lots of things to consider if you’re debating choosing WeWork as a building operator.

Most concerning is the firm’s questionable working culture and misleading business reporting, which has left many wondering just how it has survived the past half decade – and if it will have a long future to come.

As this guide has shown, alternative companies can offer WeWork’s products, services and more, all for a lower cost. Given the current boom in the coworking market, now is a smart time to move away from WeWork. Small businesses should take advantage of new competition in the market to find the best discounts and deals.

If you’d like more expert help to find the best flexible workspace, fill in the form
at the top of this page to receive quotes and offers from coworking spaces in particular UK regions.

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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.
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