At WeWork India, Connections Come With the Territory

Research shows that members in India report making more friends and work connections

by John Rambow

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A recent survey of WeWork members found that those in India are twice as likely to make friends and professional connections in their workspace as their counterparts in other countries.

In an internal study published by WeWork, researchers Gillian Lau and Rachel Montana surveyed members in 12 countries about the connections they make at work. Every single respondent from India—100 percent—said they had made at least one professional connection and at least one friend at WeWork.

By comparison, in countries like South Korea, France, and Colombia, about a third of respondents had made professional connections, and around 25 percent had made friends.

“It’s pretty rare that you run a survey and see 100 percent agreement on a topic,” says Daniel Davis, director of WeWork’s applied sciences team. “It’s usually the result of a small sample size, but in India, we had more than 100 respondents, which is a pretty good sample size.”

In fact, Davis says the result wasn’t totally unexpected. Previous research about usage of WeWork’s member app had recorded similar numbers.

“When we noticed that the most engaged users were in India, we suspected something was going on with that,” says Davis.

Harsha Rao, senior product manager for recommendation systems, helped conduct some of that research on users of the WeWork app. He says that in surveys administered last year, Indian members were eager to connect more with the community.

“In all the community-focused metrics that we were looking at, the results were off the charts,” says Rao. “That includes the amount they posted on the app and the amount of engagement they showed.”

Some of the high engagement has to do with cultural differences. According to an often-cited 2011 study called “Social Isolation in the Workplace,” almost half of Indians surveyed had actually gone on some sort of vacation with a coworker. That compares with only 6 percent of Americans who had done the same. Indians were also much more likely to have invited a coworker to their home.

But Indian members say that WeWork has also changed the way they socialize with others at work. For Siddhant Narayan and his coworkers at the online watchmaker Daniel Wellington, WeWork has provided “a very open environment for networking.”

“Other places do not give the opportunity for us to interact with professionals from various industries,” says Narayan, who is based in Mumbai. “It’s so easy to approach people here. Mostly I meet people at the cafeteria, where I can strike up a conversation with my coffee and talk about work or any random thing.”

Ninad Karpe, CEO of business-strategy consultancy Karpe Diem, joined WeWork because of the ease of opening an office but says he hadn’t factored in the networking part. Since joining he’s now made “quite a few business connections” because the common areas are “a great place to meet new people.”

Rao says a third factor is how hard the community team in India works to make sure members are included in events and activities. His team would like to travel to India to do more research.

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