Collaboration Begins with ‘We’
How WeWork creates frictionless collaboration by standardizing on Mersive’s collaboration platform, Solstice, across more than 500 locations and 15,000 Solstice Pods.
WeWork builds coworking spaces where people and companies come together, get inspired, and do their best work. Since opening its first location in New York City in 2010, WeWork has grown into a global network of more than 500 workspaces in 39 countries that empower tomorrow’s world at work.
With spaces that combine thoughtful design and technology, WeWork requires frictionless, user-friendly collaboration systems designed for a wide range of working styles. Mersive’s Solstice platform not only meets that requirement, offering nearly instantaneous sharing and collaboration, but allows WeWork to integrate their booking systems with Mersive’s Dynamic Digital Signage for a better user experience, more cost-efficient use of WeWork spaces, and the opportunity to tap into new sources of revenue.
Wireless Content Sharing
Dynamic Digital Signage
WeWork Selects Mersive for Wireless, Platform-Agnostic Collaboration
“We give our members the ability to collaborate, connecting their computers, phones, iPads, or other devices to room displays. With the previous hardware-based solution, cables and dongles were often misplaced…and TVs were getting damaged. Because the more hands you put on the equipment, the more likely it is to get broken. We needed a platform-agnostic solution where people could wirelessly share their screen to the TV without having to touch equipment,” says Jacob Robinson, Director of Engineering at WeWork. Most importantly, it all had to be scalable and easy to manage.
WeWork surveyed the competitive landscape and did their due diligence to research and test systems, including Mersive’s Solstice collaboration platform. WeWork’s AV Architecture team learned about Solstice in 2015. According to Robinson, competing solutions they tested were limiting, had ‘clunkier’ software that needed more permissions, required additional hardware such as dongles, hubs, and switchers, and were generally more difficult to install by comparison.
“The main thing that attracted us to the Mersive Solstice collaboration platform was its reliability. With competing solutions, we had to constantly reboot, the uptime on the devices wasn’t good, and the devices were not as modern as what Mersive was offering for essentially the same price or less,” Robinson comments.
WeWork began deploying Mersive Solstice in 2017. “In terms of collaboration, you can install the application on any operating system or share your screen from any device, whether it’s AirPlay, Android, or anything you use.”
Solstice Cloud Streamlines Deployment of 15K+ Solstice Pods
Before deploying Mersive Solstice company-wide, WeWork put the solution through its paces, installing it at a few sites and spending several months evaluating it before ramping up. “Once we vetted Solstice, it was deployed quickly. We were buying Solstice Pods several thousand at a time. To date we’ve purchased around 15,000 Pods.”
With that many Pods over 500 locations, the solution had to be extremely reliable, scalable, easy to deploy, and easy to manage. “From a sheer manpower perspective, deploying any solution site by site is time-consuming and a huge task,” says Robinson. Solstice Cloud makes deploying new Pods simple. WeWork can simply plug the device in, register it to Solstice Cloud with the serial number, and the Pod comes online. WeWork can also manage its thousands of Pods from Solstice Cloud. For example, they can see in a moment’s notice if a Pod is down. They can also leverage configuration templates and schedule updates or change digital signage. Rich analytics let them collect data from spaces and use those insights to optimize room use. “You can now deploy Pods from anywhere,” says Robinson. “Solstice Cloud has been a big time saver for us when it comes to installing Solstice Pods.”
Web-Based Sharing Is a ‘Game Changer’
Mersive’s Solstice collaboration platform not only met WeWorks’ needs for wireless and platform-agnostic sharing with simple deployment via Solstice Cloud, it also helped WeWork solve for cumbersome security warnings. Typically when users try to connect their devices to screen-share in any collaboration platform, they get a warning screen that says their connection might not be secure. This is not normally a huge imposition, but across thousands of devices shared by WeWork customers all over the world, messages add up to generate support calls and can negatively affect the overall user experience.
As of the Solstice 6 release, however, users can share via any web browser by navigating to Share.Mersive.com and security certificates are automatically loaded. WeWork has even customized their member experience by implementing their own URL for members to use. This easy way of sharing allows users to wirelessly and securely share content through their browser of choice without having to download and install an app to their personal device.
“At WeWork where people are paying for the room by time, we have to get people sharing as quickly as possible, so web-based sharing is a game-changer for us. This immediately gives you the ability to start showing your screen, minimizing the barriers to sharing and maximizing the experience.”
– Jacob Robinson, Director of Engineering at WeWork
Dynamic Digital Signage Reduces Conference-Room ‘Squatters’
Because space and time are at the core of WeWork’s product offering, better management of both helps the company succeed. Mersive’s Solstice platform has always offered the ability for companies to customize displays’ splash screens. WeWork required additional digital signage customization capabilities—like making the background a video, moving text around, and implementing room responsiveness features. Mersive worked directly with WeWork to develop a Dynamic Digital Signage feature in the Solstice platform that is endlessly customizable because it’s a hosted web page. This feature is available to all Solstice customers.
“We had motion sensors developed to work with the Solstice platform, so that if movement is detected in the room, the screen can display a welcome message. If the room is not booked, we leverage Solstice’s calendar API so that a screen will pop up that informs the person in the room they need to book it in order to use it. This helps WeWork make more efficient use of space and reduce conference-room ‘squatters’ where people are using rooms without booking.”
“I feel like we’re really pushing the boundaries of what digital signage can do with Mersive, and it’s making the experience for our members as good as it can be by giving them a fully customized WeWork experience,” adds Robinson. “Since we’ve deployed digital signage in this way, we have seen a dramatic increase in positive experience reported. Complaints have gone down, tickets have gone down…it’s a great improvement.”
Of course, with 15,000 devices, WeWork inevitably needs some support. “Mersive has always been really, really good about understanding what the issue is and getting to the bottom of it. In terms of quality assurance, they do extensive testing on their software before they release it, which may make the software releases take longer, but it also means that the software we’re getting is always going to work. They’re very receptive and are diligent with any sort of bugs or feature requests.”
It Takes a Team
Throughout the entire specification, deployment, and evolution of WeWork’s Mersive Solstice solution, collaboration remained at the heart of it all both in design and execution. Robinson works closely with Marko Markovic, WeWork Senior Software Engineering Manager, who develops and supports calendar service integration and WeWork internal support portals between the WeWork booking system and Solstice Pod.
Ben Gartenstein, WeWork Infrastructure Engineer, is also a crucial part of the team. He develops and supports calendar service integration, development and support of automated DNS assignment per device using the screen.tv domain, motion sensor data collection and analysis, creation and deployment of media, and support for various other Solstice features.
“We always have careful consideration for highly scalable solutions due to all of the sites that we support. This is true for new development as well as supporting existing infrastructure, which means we build custom tools to deploy and manage our fleet,” says Robinson. “Our team is successful because they have mixed experience in software, network, and AV engineering.”
WeWork also works with a wide variety of integrators in various locations, including companies like USIS, Maxus, ComNet, Wachter, Gibson, GlobalCom, IES, WBE, Integrity, ASD, BlueWave, Americom, and EquipBureau.
“Each integrator is a slightly different experience but for the most part the experience working with AV teams has been positive.”
In the end, Mersive delivered a collaboration solution that could be templated, easy to deploy, and used on a massive global scale. WeWork harnesses that solution in locations all over the world to build an in-person workplace experience that not only optimizes room bookings, but helps to inspire its members with true collaboration every day.
Solstice Cloud Enables Scalable Deployment
WeWork uses 15,000 Solstice Pods across locations, which means deployment had to be easy and require minimal time investment. Solstice Cloud enabled efficient deployment of Pods all over the world at more than 500 WeWork locations.
Dynamic Digital Signage Maximizes Room Use
Mersive Solstice’s Dynamic Digital Signage feature is a hosted web page, enabling endless customization. WeWork developed motion sensors to work with the Solstice platform so that if movement is detected in the room, the screen can display a welcome message. If the room is not booked, a screen will pop up that informs the person in the room they need to book it in order to use it. This helps WeWork make more efficient use of space and reduce conference-room squatters.
Web-based Sharing Is a Game-Changer
Solstice’s new web-based sharing feature not only automatically loads security certificates for a more frictionless sharing experience and fewer support calls, but it also allows those who want to share their screen to do so in seconds.
Reduced Physical Equipment for Easy Installation and Maintenance
WeWork was looking for a streamlined wireless collaboration solution. Competing solutions tested were limiting, had cumbersome software that needed more permissions, required additional hardware such as dongles, hubs, and switchers, and were generally more difficult to install by comparison.