Ten Things I Hate About WeWork

August 13, 2019 9:00 PM Chicago, IL

First, a brief explanation of how we ended up here.

In the early morning of April 4th, 2018, the front door and window of XBE's first office space in Chicago was literally shot up. 6 bullets in the wall, and one in the planter. We weren't in a particularly rough neighborhood (Old Irving Park), and it's never been entirely clear who was sending what message, but needless to say, we moved out immediately.

Given the lack of notice and nascent stage of the business, we needed something affordable and flexible. Through a colleague, I was put in contact with the team at BuiltWorlds, a construction industry media and conference company. At some point, they had planned on running a construction-themed coworking space out of the former Threadless headquarters on the Near West Side, and while that never came to pass, they still had some free space in the back of that office. And so, we agreed on a modest rent, put up a divider using a combination of their conference signage and some fake plants, and moved in.

Three months later, they decided not to renew their lease! I suppose it was just as well — that wasn't an ideal setup for any of us. There's never a great time to move, but Summer 2018 certainly wasn't it for XBE. Nevertheless, we needed something flexible quickly, and so in late July, we moved into the WeWork at 20 W Kinzie St.

Which is just to say that we all have our reasons, but even if your business is rendered homeless and you just-don't-have-time-to-deal, save your soul and find something better.

  1. Garbage Printing. You'll need to install ancient junk software on your computer and login with a username and password on the gross built-in keyboard (keycard support not provided) every time you print anything.
  2. Decorative Books. Treasures on the shelves such as the "Flat Belly Diet" are chosen exclusively based on how they color coordinate with the other books.
  3. Appropriated Lyrics. The theme of the interior design of this WeWork is "music", and so they thought it wise to appropriate Kanye West lyrics for the wallpaper of one of our floor's conference rooms. The didn't even get it right! "The City Raised My Crazy" instead of "Chi-Town, raised me, crazy". Unless they got permision from Yeezy…
  4. Cloying Announcements. I won't argue with a free snack at the end of the day now and then (with craft cocktails and seasonal beers served up by CRAFTY™ LOL bleh), but the promotional announcements are fuel for self loathing.
  5. Oppressive Echo. Perhaps the little fishbowls make the spaces look bigger, but the echo is debilitating. When they tell you that it'll be better when furniture is moved in, yodel into any furnished office and see how it sounds.
  6. Lousy Coffee. It's consistently inconsistently bad, and only available from 8AM - 4PM from Monday to Friday; all the hours when us "makers" need it.
  7. Bankers Hours. Speaking of… For all the talk about makers, it's mostly bankers; little hustle and zero vibe.
  8. Artless Walls. Decorations as far as you can see; not a thing to look at.
  9. Zero Privacy. Offices aren't private. Conferences rooms aren't private. Phone booths aren't private. Nothing is private.
  10. Enthusiastic Visitors. All of this makes it hard to deal with the enthusiasm of visitors about the space when they come to visit. I wish they'd hate it too.

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