One Cheer for WeWork

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Just swap a nice, juicy rib eye for that bottle, and see how little things change in a century. (Image via WikiMedia.)
In case you haven't heard, WeWork, a company that provides shared workspaces and other infrastructure for startups and other small businesses, recently adopted a policy of refusing to reimburse employees for meat-containing meal items purchased while on business. (The policy is supposed to reduce WeWork's "carbon footprint," in case you were wondering why a company would try to pressure employees into eating like vegetarians.) Business writer Suzanne Lucas amuses by indicating much better ways the company could achieve its stated goal than by annoying something close to ninety-seven percent of its employees -- and by spelling out just what a hassle this will be:
Imagine you're the person in charge of travel reimbursement. You now have to scour receipts to make sure someone didn't get chicken on those nachos. And what if an employee takes a client or a job candidate out to eat? Is the employee required to say to the client (or job candidate), "Hey, you can't order that spaghetti Bolognese. No meat!" Because that won't go over well.
And that's just a sample. Even the exceptions the company is willing to grant will entail extra inconvenience and expense.

Lucas is right that WeWork, as a private company, has the right to set whatever policies it wishes. And she is also right to mention that:
[I]f I was balancing two job offers and one would scrutinize my business meals for signs of hamburgers and the other would not, I might be inclined to turn down the offer from the company that cared more about what I ate on a business trip than what I accomplished. I suspect I'm not alone. [bold added]
I think that there is an additional lesson here, though. Whatever you might think of WeWork's policy, at least they can only inconvenience themselves and (perhaps) those they do business with. When like-minded people demand similar policies of the government, they are asking that it force us all to live with their choices. This is not just wrong, it might be even more impractical than they realize. I don't know if WeWork sponsors organizations that seek fuel rationing or other government interference with what fuel I use, but at least they are doing two things: (1) suffering the consequences of their own foolishness, and (2) "'virtue' signalling" (by publicizing this), so I am aware that this company places other considerations above how best to offer me value for my money.

-- CAV


Jim said...

Agreed. Here is a general overview of its business that I recently heard

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks. that was very interesting. Except for this recent blunder, this sounds like a good company.