As home to the largest number of startups per capita in the world, it’s hardly surprising that many of Israel’s budding entrepreneurs have embraced the dynamism and flexibility of co-working spaces for the boundless opportunities they provide. But Israel isn’t merely jumping on the bandwagon. Israeli entrepreneurs have spawned some of the world’s most prominent co-working companies, including the ubiquitous WeWork, leveraging Israeli ingenuity and innovation to support vibrant startup ecosystems around the world.
It’s easy to see why startups and the co-working culture go hand in hand. Both are about disrupting existing business models through innovation. With the flexibility that co-working spaces provide, members have more room (figuratively and literally) to move around, change desk spaces, change package plans, change work hours, and maybe even change companies, all at prices tailor made for companies at different stages.
Here’s a closer look at how three co-working companies with Israeli roots have helped reimagine the modern global workplace:
- WeWork’s mission statement reflects the coworking ethos: “Community is our catalyst.” Co-founded by the Israeli entrepreneur Adam Neumann, the company now has co-working spaces operating at 467 locations in 90 cities worldwide. There are currently 11 Israeli locations, with tenants including major brands like Microsoft. Earlier this year, WeWork Labs launched a global accelerator-type program to operate in at least 27 locations, including Israel. The program is geared toward mentoring promising early-stage startups. Roee Adler is running the global initiative, and yes, he’s a native Israeli. And by the way, it may be that no coincidence that founder Adam Neumann was responsible for co-creating this cooperative working space giant – he himself partly grew up on a kibbutz, Israel’s own unique brand of cooperative community.
- Tel Aviv-based SOSA is a global co-working network comprised of 150 multinational corporations and investors. Launched in 2014 by 25 prominent Israeli high-tech entrepreneurs and investors, SOSA targets tech ecosystems around the world, fostering collaboration among mature tech companies and startups. The city of New York recently selected SOSA to establish a global cybersecurity center, to help turn the Big Apple into one of the cyber centers of the world.
- With 23 offices spread across 13 cities and three continents, Mindspace offers member-exclusive meet-ups to help encourage collaboration through networking opportunities and community events. The company operates three offices in Israel: two in Tel Aviv and one in Herzliya. Dan Zakai and Yotam Alroy co-founded the Tel Aviv-based company in 2014.
While co-working’s impact is most obvious in how it has reshaped the employee work experience, its effects are also felt in key industries, including commercial real estate. The co-working model helps companies lower costs for acquisitions, facilities management, and leasehold improvements, highlighting how co-working can have a positive effect on the bottom line.
Since WeWork’s founding in 2010, the number of co-working spaces worldwide has skyrocketed from only 600 to almost 19,000 – a more than 30-fold increase. As millennials and Generation Z come to dominate the workforce, the opportunities for collaboration, networking, and flexibility that co-working spaces provide will probably continue to make the communal office space even more popular. As the global movement for more community at work gains steam, it will be powered in large part by Israeli innovation.