There are many elements to the corporate culture at The We Company which would give any moderately reasonable person cause for concern, some of which are highlighted in a brand new business story from New York magazine. There’s the staff of executives who give off major “boys’ club” vibes. There’s the condescending-guru tone that’s been adopted by co-founder Adam Neumann, who told the journalist who was interviewing him the following: “Ask a question that has an opportunity to give something to your readers that could make them grow.” But one of the most glaring features of life as an employee at the hugely successful co-working startup formerly known as WeWork is what appears to be rigorously encouraged hardcore drinking.
WeWork has been around since 2010, thus placing it perfectly within the tradition of hugely ambitious new companies founded near the beginning of the 21st century which have notoriously hardcore camaraderie traditions. Silicon Valley, particularly, has long been under the spotlight for its evidently rampant sex parties and free-flowing access to drugs.
At WeWork, according to journalist Reeves Wiedeman, alcohol has been integral to its office culture. On the first day of the work week, WeWork employees had to stay late to participate in an after-hours team-building exercise called “Thank God It’s Monday” that could run late into the night. “Neumann would typically speak, after which employees often walked around handing out shots of tequila,” Wiedeman writes. Another former employee told New York that during her job interview with Neumann, the co-founder offered her tequila, which was apparently his favorite.
WeWork’s annual Summer Camp company celebration sounds even more daunting. One employee told Wiedeman that in 2017, bartenders at the event “would give you two bottles of rosé, and we’d drink them like Edward Forty-Fucking-Hands while we’re watching Florence + the Machine.” Another former employee described waking up in her teepee at Summer Camp to discover that one of her coworkers was relieving himself on the canvas near her head. “Talk to any community manager under 24, and it’s the greatest weekend of your life,” the source told Wiedeman. “But I am not here to get peed on.”
Drinking to the point of acute intoxication is a coworker bonding experience that should have been left in the 20th century where it belongs, but clearly, there’s still a long way to go.