Today, cult classic Office Space is nearly obsolete, and the plotlines in The Office feel like they were plucked from 30 years ago, rather than the past decade. The reason these office-centric themes are no longer relevant to the way we work? We don’t congregate around the watercooler anymore.
Instead, we’re sipping micro-roasted coffee on a swanky tufted couch or enjoying craft beers on draft at the sleek kitchen bar, and we’re not chatting up our colleagues – we’re talking to entrepreneurs, freelancers and creatives that share our same coworking space.
WeWork is at the helm of the coworking movement, with eight DC area locations and two more on the way. We caught up with Reston, Virginia native Alissa Avilov, community manager at WeWork’s brand new Apollo location in the H Street Corridor, about her role at the company, the local coworking landscape, and some of her favorite things to do in and around the city.
On Tap: How does WeWork operate?
Alissa Avilov: WeWork is a coworking space, but our whole premise is to build communities within. All of our spaces are built and designed so that we can foster community and encourage networking; customers can meet new people, and come to and host great events. We want people to make a life, not a living. We want people that are living their side hustle full-time.
OT: What does your role as community manager entail?
AA: I was the community manager at WeWork Crystal City, and that was a different experience because those actually have living spaces as well. As a community manager, my biggest responsibility is that we are thriving on sales. It’s not like traditional sales; we’re just trying to bring people into our community and see if they fit. You’re really listening to people, and seeing if there’s a way you can help them and their needs. I have to know our members, know their birthdays, where they live, and milestones they reach personally and professionally. We have to curate events that aren’t just business-focused, but also include things like yoga and partnerships with people from our community. We’re really fostering a welcoming, inspiring environment.
OT: How did you get involved in community work spaces?
AA: I worked for a small food startup. I ran a food truck and restaurant, and I was drawn to it because I loved working in the industry. While I was there, my best friend in college worked at a WeWork in Boston, and we partnered by connecting our communities. It got to a point where I was looking to move, and I was ready to make a career move, and what really struck me was the community she built. Her day-to-day was listening to and speaking with [her community], and it struck me how little I see from that otherwise. Sometimes, we forget to talk to people around us. I really wanted to work for WeWork. I started here last April, and I’ve been loving it ever since.
OT: How will your role be different at the new Apollo WeWork space?
AA: I definitely have the same goals. I’m motivated by the people who are working in what they believe in. I love that aspect of being with WeWork. WeLive [furnished apartments and rentals in Crystal City and Lower Manhattan] is a great new project, and it’s so exciting to be a part of a new project and system. I’m really excited about the Apollo. I’m also the person that supports events in DC, and working at the Apollo will give me a little more time to focus on events and content that are really exciting, but also really helpful. We want to bring everything that we can to our communities.
OT: Do you see coworking spaces as a trend? What are the advantages to sharing space with other businesses?
AA: Absolutely. I think what I love so much about touring is that you show people the space, and they’ll be skeptical, and we prove them wrong. I love those members, because they can come in and see it for themselves. It’s just a culture with WeLive, with the coliving. We live in these neighborhoods and apartments where we don’t know anyone; it’s rare to find someone living in your neighborhood. It’s special to sit at a breakfast with 20 strangers, and people are seeing the value in that in both their professional and personal lives. We all need support from other people and communities that we can be a part of. That’s what makes WeWork such a special place.
OT: Why do you think WeWork spaces have been so successful in DC?
AA: I think DC has been a really special place. From my experience, all of our buildings have personalities. We attract people in businesses that are attracted to those spots specifically. We’re getting a lot of people from H Street in Apollo, as opposed to our White House location, which is more buttoned up and government-like. We’ve found a lot of success here, and there’s a WeWork for everybody, but at the same time, WeWork is a community in and of itself. I think that’s the best thing that I’ve seen about DC.
OT: Are you ever surprised at just how diverse the clientele is at the spaces you provide?
AA: No; I think that’s part of what’s so exciting. The space can make sense for anyone. It can be a mom blogging who just wants to come in, or it can be a huge enterprising company. It’s exciting for everyone, regardless of the size of their company. And the more diverse we are, the better, because you can stand to learn something from anyone.
OT: When you’re not working, what’s your go-to spot to grab a meal?
AA: I love Sally’s Middle Name. I think it’s really special; it’s super authentic and honest. It’s such a reflection of what’s in the market, and it’s also delicious, which definitely helps.
OT: Do you have a favorite drink?
AA: I love anything from Dogfish Head. I don’t really discriminate, but I don’t really drink that much either.
OT: What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
AA: I love to listen to anything live, but my favorite artists are The Lumineers, Sara Bareilles – any kind of folk, but with really strong lyrics. The Lumineers are my favorite band, and I’ve seen them twice. I saw them in Richmond and at Madison Square Garden.
OT: Do you have a favorite venue to catch shows?
AA: DAR Constitution Hall; I saw The Head and the Heart there. I like all of the intimate settings in the city. I also really like the 9:30 Club.
Learn more about WeWork Apollo at www.wework.com/apollo.
WeWork Apollo: 810 7th St. NE, DC; 202-759-7745; www.wework.com/apollo
CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
Exploring new cities on foot
Supporting people’s passions
Spending time with loved ones
Knives (for cooking)
Cold brew coffee