WeWork strengthens enterprise focus, appoints new GM in SEA

Flexible space provider WeWork has announced the promotion of Balder Tol to general manager, Australia and Southeast Asia (SEA). The announcement also aligns with the company’s enterprise members growth in the region. 

Prior to COVID-19, SEA was expected to grow at a yearly average of 5.2 percent from 2018 to 2022, with projections of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) becoming the fourth largest single market in the world by 2030.The region’s economy is expected to regain its confidence and growth this year. According to global market research firm, GlobalData, the six largest SEA nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) are expected to track positive GDP growth rates ranging from four to nine percent in 2021. 

Since WeWork’s establishment in SEA four years ago, it has been a strategic partner to foreign and local enterprises; in expanding and scaling their presence across the region. To date, WeWork’s members in SEA are made up of more than 50 percent large enterprises, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to regional and local enterprises and conglomerates.

Now more than ever, flexibility has become a strategic differentiator for business leaders as they navigate the business challenges and opportunities ahead; against the region’s economic recovery. 

As parts of SEA return to work, employees and companies are looking ahead at what will come next. In a recent study conducted by WeWork, employees find office space so valuable that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said they would be willing to pay for it out of their own pockets.

There is thus a need for business leaders in SEA to reimagine workspace strategy to integrate, energize and motivate employees. This is where a hybrid model comes in. In a hybrid workplace model, employees have the ability to work in different spaces, including corporate offices, coworking spaces, public spaces and from home.

Over the last year, WeWork took this opportunity to introduce hybrid concepts such as hub-and-spoke (satellite offices), de-densification (spaces with reduced office density to be scaled accordingly) and Collaboration Hub (a flexible, customizable workplace design enhancing teamwork and creativity). Through WeWork All Access, members can access any WeWork location, wherever is most convenient for them, and the company will launch On Demand(pay-as-you-go workspace) in SEA later this year. 

WeWork SEA members 

The emphasis on flexibility is echoed by both existing and new members, with close to 10 percent increase in the enterprise segment for WeWork SEA. Across the region, WeWork has tracked renewed and new commitments from companies such as OPPOThalesPayoneerAffinidiIndepay, and Katalon. Confidence in WeWork’s solutions is further reinforced with more than 50 percent of WeWork’s global members having commitments longer than 12 months, contributing to an average full commitment term of well over 15 months. 

Against an economic landscape that increasingly focuses on cash flow efficiency and productivity lies a growing demand for optionality and collaboration in supporting business operations. Beyond sectors like financial and technology, WeWork’s workplace solution is getting traction with diverse industries such as pharmaceutical, government and education across SEA. The government sector is particularly a significant driver for WeWork in Singapore, with a growth of more than 60 percent from last year.

Leading WeWorkSEA will be the newly appointed general manager for Australia and SEA, Balder Tol. As WeWork’s first Australian hire in 2016, Tol’s member-first approach grew Australia’s membership to over 12,000 members across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Not only has he established WeWork Australia as a reliable and trusted partner for enterprises, he has been at the forefront leading the return to office and economic recovery strategy for companies in Australia.  

In his new role, Tol will continue to be based in Sydney and oversee WeWork SEA (Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand), in addition to Australia. He will report to Samit Chopra, managing director, International (Strategy and Operations) based in Singapore.