WeWorks Are About As Horny As You'd Expect

He was a WeBoy. She was a WeGirl. They met at a Cinco de Mayo party at their WeWork.

WeWorks—the brand-name shared workspaces with Instagrammable details like exposed brick and copious plants—have become, like Ubers and Airbnbs, another venture-backed emblem of the post-crash gig economy. The first one opened in New York in 2010. Since then, the company has expanded to 425 locations, servicing more than 400,000 freelancers, startups, and larger companies with remote staffers, and a website with an Airbnb-like interface showing airy office porn in cities as far-flung as Warsaw, Poland, and Lima, Peru.

Members can avail themselves of the usual startup-style staples: bike storage, water with fruit floating in it, and “a sense of community.” They can baste themselves in community in the cushy common areas, flattered by the Urban Outfitters-y color palettes. Many WeWorks also offer “craft on draft” to lube everyone up for inter-company small talk, though the company has recently taken steps to curb alcohol consumption by its members, in part to clean up its startup-bro image. And then, of course, there are the social events.

At this particular Cinco de Mayo party, there was “enough liquor for a three-day frat party,” and our heroine, 29 years old and working for a recruitment company, had decided to stay for one more drink.

“I saw him across the room,” she recalls. Like her, he was tall. He was wearing a suit, and his shirt was a little bit unbuttoned. And, well, he also had a British accent. “It sounds so cheesy, but it was one of those movie moments, where I was taken aback by how attractive he was. I don’t do double-takes a lot, but all I could think was, ‘Holy shit, who is that and how do I talk to him?’”

A tray of tequila shots drifted by, and she and an acquaintance each grabbed one. The man approached from across the room, and the conversation came easily. They returned to the bar—the kitchen counter, rather—to order more drinks. Soon they started swiping bottles and smuggling them to another floor, where a handful of people had started a satellite party.

The group went to a bar, but the two of them returned to their WeWork. To network.

After that night, they would coordinate makeout sessions around the building. One evening, while they were leaving the building, they made out in the elevators “so aggressively” that building security buzzed in on the intercom to remind the couple that they could see them. After a few weeks, they started dating in earnest.

These days, if we hear about an office tryst, particularly one that began under boozy circumstances, it’s usually because it ended in disaster. (Last October, for instance, a former WeWork employee sued the company, alleging that she’d been sexually assaulted at two company events and was fired in retaliation after she reported the incidents to human resources.) Anyone who was not already aware of the dangers of flirting with coworkers before #MeToo has, by now, at least absorbed some caution by osmosis.

The fate of flirting in coworking spaces, among people working for themselves or for distinct companies, is murkier. “It felt low-stakes,” the woman said of her relationship in the weeks following the Cinco de Mayo party. “You’re not supposed to be there to meet people, so you’re just genuinely being yourself.”

The conditions lend themselves to flirting. There’s proximity, like in an office—you see the same people often enough that they become familiar and accessible—but you’re not colleagues, per se.

“Everyone is basically my age, and a lot of us are doing similar kinds of work, so we’re all kind of like-minded,” one 28-year-old copywriter said. He said he had gone on dates with two women from different companies at his WeWork, stressing that he did not date them concurrently. He met one woman at a lunch with friends, asking her out after they’d exchanged e-mails and struck up a robust Gchatship. He asked the other woman out after several rounds of elevator small talk. “There had been a lot of eye sex,” he added. “I’m not ordinarily that brave.” Neither courtship went beyond a fling, but he said it wasn’t especially awkward seeing either woman around.

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