The idea of co-living is hardly new. In Israel, for example, Moshavs and Kibbutzim, two kinds of cooperative communities based on residents sharing resources with each other, have been around since the early part of the 20th century, and small towns have been around since the dawn of mankind. With the onset of the Sharing Economy, though, a new form of co-living is taking root, and instead of being based on farms, this iteration of an old favorite is cropping up across the urban landscape.
These contemporary co-living initiatives all play off the concept that – much like tangible resources (common spaces, internet, silverware) – ‘community,’ too, is a commodity that can be traded and shared in exchange for money. And with the release of their pilot program for co-living, WeLive, in early January of this year, the coworking giant and tech unicorn WeWork in New York and The Commons in London has officially thrown its hat into the co-living ring.
Much like the office spaces that typify WeWork’s offices, the company’s new residential offering, WeLive, located at 110 Wall Street in New York City, is in keeping with the branding that has defined WeWork during its rise in the coworking industry. Although their new apartments do, irrefutably, fall into the category of “microapartments,” WeWork is hoping to make up for this lack of individualized space – to them, an advantage – by emphasizing community at home the way it already does in the workplace. With shared common spaces, including kitchens, movie theaters and game rooms, as well as planned community-oriented events and mixers organized by WeLive employees for their tenants. WeWork is aiming to bring the collegiate atmosphere of their office spaces to their WeLive apartments. In doing so, they are operating under the premise that their target demographic will find the experience of co-living to be transformative and enriching that the company will be able to continue to grow its residential arm,
With its $10 billion valuation, the company has demonstrated that “the We economy” carries great significance and weight to a new generation of young people who value community and collaboration in every facet of their lives. WeLive is merely an extension of this concept, as is every company that plays a role in the holistic Sharing Economy (like Pley for toys, or TaskRabbit for one-off assistance with odd jobs). While only time will tell if WeWork’s new residential initiative is a success, strong proponents of the sharing economy have faith that in opening WeLive, WeWork is simply moving us one step closer to a world of sharing.