Since its inception in 2010, WeWork—a provider of shared workspace and services for freelancers, startups, and small businesses—has grown to offer more than 50 coworking locations in the U.S., Europe, and Israel.
We talked with WeWork’s Bobby Ghoshal and Roee Adler about how they design to create community, and what their rapid growth has meant for their design processes.
How’s the design team set up at WeWork?
Bobby Ghoshal: We’ve broken down our digital team into four clusters. I’m the head of digital design here, but each cluster has a creative lead, which is essentially a design director. And under each creative lead is a team made up of product designers, visual designers, and prototype designers.
Roee Adler: Within WeWork, there’s the digital department, an 80-person organization. We can structure this as a matrix where the vertical dimension contains missions, production vision, and product content. The result of that dimension includes subdepartments for digital design, engineering, data analysis, and others.
The teams on the vertical side are independent and self-sustained. The product director, engineering director, and creative lead work together to execute on product commission, while all the different directors for a specific discipline are also connected on the horizontal line through a subdepartment for the sharing of process, best practices, and measurements. This lets people move between the different clusters as they develop professionally. Plus, it provides more space for growth.
What are some of the advantages of this structure?
Bobby: The clusters allow us to set things up for a mission-level organization rather than for a product-level organization. We think of clusters as individual companies—the VP of Product acts as the CEO and makes decisions around what the cluster’s mission is, how they want to resource their teams, what products they work on, etc.
That setup allows flexibility. Designers get a sense of purpose because all the designers in a specific cluster work towards a singular mission. And it gives us a clear picture of how to resource for that cluster based on the product growth.
Roee: Also, each cluster has a magical triangle of equals: an engineering director, a product director, and a design director. In our structure, it’s essential that those three are equals.
You can read the rest of Bobby and Roee’s interview with Invision here.