The recently rebranded We Company, parent of the coworking business WeWork, holds more Manhattan office space (5.3 million square feet) than any other company; it’s now valued at $47 billion; and it doesn’t make its customers too many promises with its simple coworking concept: a space to sit, WiFi to use, and free coffee and beer to drink. But at the Manchester, England WeWork, the concept is enduring a challenge: The free beer was suddenly restricted in the New Year, for reasons that were not immediately explained to its members.
The free-beer concept already took a blow toward the end of last year, when WeWork quietly began a trial in New York City to restrict members to four glasses of beer each per day. (The beer is pouring freely at the WeWork where The Outline currently makes its home, suggesting the trial already ended unsuccessfully.) It appears the beer can come under threat in still more ways, according to the global forum where WeWorkers are able to talk to each other about anything, including the status of WeWork’s promised benefits, such as free beer.
“Happy New Year We Workers,” wrote one member on January 4 in the Manchester forum. “I’ve just heard a rumour that the Beer is being stopped Monday to Wednesday - has anyone else heard about this? Are you happy about this?”
No one was happy about this. “Yep apparently so,” replied another. “Judging by the conversations I’ve heard today about it, the resounding answer is there is about to be uproar… apparently (so I’m told) they will only be open 5-7pm Thurs/Fri.”
“I had a chat with [an admin] about this on Wednesday,” replied a third. “Apparently there’s been complaints about noise 🙄. I doubt it’ll last! 🤞”
More workers weighed in to note that part of the draw of the WeWork is supposed to be a social atmosphere, fostered by perks such as free beer. The original poster noted the situation did seem “inconsistent with both what we were informed when we signed up and what wework channels as its USP.”
Finally, an admin of the Manchester location popped in: “Hi All, a decision has been made regarding the beer taps and their scheduled opening times. I'll be more than happy to speak with anyone who has concerns or suggestions around this :-)”
Here, the WeWorkers began to rabble. “Surely this is a breach of the contract i signed up for and requires a 30 Day notice? as i was told it was available from 2pm on words every Day? there probably somewhere hidden they can change it but i have to give 30 days notice to leave sure they should do the same if they're changing the terms of the benefits i receive as a member?”
“Absolutely stupid to just be off without announcement! We signed up based on perks that seem to be depleting by the week, yet very high rents. “
“This is bang out of order!”
Yet another new voice cuts in to say this development will mess greatly with his single-serve website, www.weworkbeertaps.com, which provides live updates on whether the Manchester locations’ beer taps are on. “ this is going to cost me significant dollar in development costs to change the algorithms. Unfortunately the website is no longer accurate until further notice,” he wrote.
The admin returned, apologetic but firm: “Hi All, I appreciate how strongly the community feel regarding the beer taps,” he wrote. “But I can assure you that there is a reason as to why this has been put in place and why it has been introduced in the way it has. been communicated (or not, in this case). I cannot deny that there have been concerns raised regarding the drinking culture in our office and striking the balance between being a professional working environment and one that is relaxed is very difficult. Inevitably, we're going to get it wrong at times and all I can ask for is your patience and understanding as we find the balance. The situation with the beer taps are in a constant state of review and when a suitable long-term plan has been drawn up (by the end of next week) this will be fully communicated to all members.”
The next reply received six “likes”: “Is there a suitable short term plan, e.g. turning the taps back on?”
Though WeWorkers continued to reply to the thread, the admin has not yet gone on to elaborate which events prompted the beer shutdown. Reached for comment, the original poster told The Outline: “We havent heard anything I'm afraid. In all honesty, the communication has been really poor. I dont think there would have been any announcement at all were it not for the active post we have on the members network. The good news is its Thursday so the beer taps are on today!”
WeWork did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Our thoughts are with the Manchester WeWork in solidarity in this difficult time.