Co-working spaces are supposed to bring people together to collaborate on projects and germinate new ideas, but exactly how are you supposed to meet your new business (or life) partner if you're head-down hunched over your laptop? Co-working space pioneer We Work has figured this out in a splashy way—by creating its signature fruit water decanters for people to mingle around.
Think of them as the 2019 version of the old office water cooler, or the Mad Men era bar cart.
According to Allie Goldberg, a WeWork community manager in New York City, for the past three-and-a-half years a team meets every morning at its scores of locations in the U.S. to create super-fancy assemblages of fresh fruit, crushed ice and fresh water. Depending on what's seasonal, or if there's a holiday coming up, the kitchen managers might choose star fruit or strawberry. Passion fruit and watermelon are favorites since they turn the water pink, and cucumber is great for freshness. Staffers use cookie cutters to layer artfully shaped fruit around the outside of the glass dispenser, fill the center with crushed ice that melts during the day and then add water.
Goldberg says that sometimes for happy hour, WeWork keeps the fruit in place and just adds alcohol to the water for an impromptu cocktail (mint and lime fruit water plus a generous pour of rum can quickly become a 5 o'clock mojitos party).
There are even company Slack channels devoted to fruit water requests (berries in the summer, please) and one apparently thirsty WeWorker dressed up as fruit water on Halloween.
OK, so the water is delish, but does it really work to bring people together? According to Goldberg, it's not uncommon for couples to meet around the fruit water in the pantry area and then start eating lunch together. And there are anecdotes about workers subsequently leaving their current companies to join together to start their own new ventures. Now that's what we call social lubricant.