As vaccination efforts ramp up nationwide, businesses are figuring out how to plan a return to the office for employees who have worked from home over the past year. Office-sharing giant WeWork is partnering with the Chambers of Commerce for the five boroughs of New York City to help ensure companies make a smooth transition back into the office.
"So if somebody's a member of one of the chambers, what they do is they apply to us, and we're able to give them some enhanced terms to be able to participate in our spaces," said Shyam Gidumal, chief operations officer at WeWork. "That's a central part of people being able to get back into the work environment."
Gidumal said WeWork has developed programs in other cities and has plans in development for national programs. He added that the company has the tools to make spaces safe and comfortable as workers also do their part in making their way back to workplaces.
"I think what we are also starting to see is a real pick-up as the vaccines have rolled out and people have become a little more accustomed to wearing masks and doing the basics that the CDC and the like have been recommending, that people are becoming much more comfortable coming back into the offices," he told Cheddar.
WeWork also has collaborated with businesses on new office layouts and designs, implemented distancing between workers, and installed sanitizing stations.
While companies consider their future work models as they try to get reacclimated to office life, Gidumal said the hybrid option, part work-from-home, part in-office, could be an option. A unique feature about WeWork's offerings is the flexibility it can provide businesses when it comes to in-office operations.
"For us, we solve all of those needs. So if people want to bring back their employees in a big way, that's great. We have space for them. If they want to create flexibility, they want to have flexibility so that people can come into the office part-time, that's fine," Gidumal said, explaining that WeWork's All Access program will allow people to work from any of its locations.
Meanwhile, as businesses recognize International Women's History Month in March, WeWork, in partnership with SoftBank, has launched the Women for Tomorrow campaign and has carved out a special program for women-run companies that will allocate $5 million among businesses, throughout the Americas, to provide flexible workspaces.
"Women, in particular, have been hit hard and differentially hard by the pandemic and the impact it's had on the workforce. So one of the things that we really wanted to lean into was to provide some support for them, and I'm really proud of what we've been able to put together," he noted.