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Around 250 of WeWork’s cleaners in the UK will be made redundant this month as the company continues to cut costs during the coronavirus crisis, WIRED understands. The job losses follow a redundancy consultation that started on June 10.
The cuts affect cleaners contracted by CCM Facilities. It is thought that around 500 people contracted by the firm work for WeWork in the UK. CCM did not respond to requests to comment.
On its website WeWork says that it is providing “enhanced disinfection protocols” following lockdown, which involve “increased cleaning scope and frequency”. It is unclear how these redundancies will affect the company’s cleanliness standards.
WeWork does not employ cleaning staff directly. Instead it outsources the work across its global offices (including its 59 buildings in the UK) to companies like CCM.
The United Voices of the World union is representing one of the cleaners affected by the cuts. The union says that workers at CCM were told that their jobs were no longer needed because the WeWork sites that they clean are closing down. WeWork declined to comment. In a recent interview, WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani said there was no target to reduce the number of locations. Mathrani also claimed that 85 per cent of the company’s “mature” buildings are profitable already.
WeWork launched a review of its expansion plans in the UK last year, with up to 28 potential new office deals in London at risk, according to a report from The Telegraph. However, to date the company has not reduced its office space.
The company has clashed with its cleaning staff before: last year, tenants wrote to complain to WeWork after five contractors employed by CCM were dismissed between January and May. The Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU), which was pushing for union recognition within CCM, staged protests outside WeWork offices. In the US, cleaning staff were told to continue to come in during the coronavirus pandemic. If they became sick, they were told to take paid time off or use limited sick leave.
The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has left WeWork, which is the largest single occupier of office space in London, with huge amounts of empty space and has furloughed hundreds of employees.
Last month WeWork cut over 50 per cent of its community managers and community leads in the UK, according to sources within the business. The cuts affected 82 people in the community team, the largest in the company, while WeWork insiders point to further redundancies in the design, IT, sales, events, talent acquisition and new member development teams.
An internal presentation seen by WIRED last month showed WeWork’s new member experience and hospitality, which was launched in July and involves ditching its individual building management structure and creating a centralised “shared services” team in July to handle billing and invoicing. People working in sales, pipeline management and renewals will be part of the “sales and account management” team, according to the internal documents.
This is all part of the WeWork’s drive to ramp up membership occupancy to 90 per cent in plans set out last year by focusing on Europe and the US, according to the Financial Times, compared with an occupancy that had dipped below 80 per cent as it pursued a business model more focused on global expansion. The pandemic has made that outcome uncertain.
WeWork’s chairman, Marcelo Claure, said earlier this week that the company is on track to have a positive cash flow in 2021, a year ahead of schedule, after cutting 8,000 people, renegotiating leases and selling assets. Meanwhile, the company’s controversial founder and former CEO Adam Neumann has re-entered the sharing economy market, taking a 33 per cent stake in shared mobility company GoTo Global.
Natasha Bernal is WIRED’s business editor. She tweets from @TashaBernal
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