WeWork Stays Open as Some Co-Working Spaces Shut Doors

(Bloomberg) -- Co-working startup the Wing will close all locations starting Saturday, taking precautions following the global spread of the coronavirus. The company, whose offerings focus on women, has 11 branches in the U.S. and London. Offices will remain closed through at least March 31, the startup said. 

The announcement follows moves at many other companies asking employees to stay home. Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have all recommended staff work remotely.

WeWork, which has 739 locations and 662,000 members, is keeping most of its spaces open. According to its website, WeWork has closed two in Wuhan, China. The company also shut down and then reopened other locations in New York and Seattle after people there tested positive for the virus. 

“We are monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak closely and adhering to guidance from the government as well as global and local health authorities regarding the proper prevention and management of this issue,” WeWork said on its website. WeWork has an optional work-from-home policy in place for employees, has reduced staffing at its locations and has suspended events. 

Other co-working companies Knotel and Convene have also taken steps to mitigate the virus spread. A spokesperson for Convene said that the company was closing more than half of its 32 locations, including one at 530 Fifth Avenue in New York where a member tested positive for the virus. Knotel, which has 271 locations, said it’s encouraging employees to take “additional health precautions,” and offering added cleanings of work spaces to customers.  

The Wing members will not be charged in their upcoming billing cycles, a spokeswoman said. The Wing has about 150 full-time staff at its headquarters, and roughly 300 hourly employees. 

“Taking care of our staff in this uncertain time is imperative, which is why we’ve committed to paying them for scheduled shifts in addition to offering paid sick leave,” said Wing co-founder Lauren Kassan. “We intend to monitor the situation carefully and continue to do our part in helping stop the spread of this virus.” 

WeWork had been an investor in the Wing until it sold off its stake in the smaller startup earlier this year. WeWork's junk bonds due in 2025 have fallen steeply in recent weeks to 71.5 cents on the dollar, according to TRACE data, their lowest level since November 2019.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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