WeWork, the leading flexible space provider, has announced the promotion of Balder Tol to General Manager, Australia and Southeast Asia (SEA). This announcement also aligns with WeWork enterprise member growth in SEA.
Before COVID-19, SEA was expected to grow at a yearly average of 5.2% from 2018 to 20221, with projections of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) becoming the fourth largest single market in the world by 20302. The region’s economy is expected to regain its confidence and growth this year. According to a global market research firm, GlobalData3, the six largest SEA nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) are expected to track positive GDP growth rates ranging from 4% – 9% in 2021.
Since WeWork’s establishment in SEA four years ago, it has been a strategic partner to foreign and local enterprises; in expanding and scaling their presence across the region. To date, WeWork’s members in SEA are made up of more than 50% large enterprises; ranging from Fortune 500 companies to regional and local enterprises and conglomerates.
Now more than ever, flexibility has become a strategic differentiator for business leaders as they navigate the business challenges and opportunities ahead; against the region’s economic recovery.
As parts of SEA return to work, employees and companies are looking ahead at what will come next. In a recent study conducted by WeWork4, employees find office space so valuable that nearly two-thirds (64%) said they would be willing to pay for it out of their own pockets. Thus, there is a need for business leaders in SEA to reimagine workspace strategy to integrate, energise, and motivate employees. This is where a hybrid model comes in. In a hybrid workplace model, employees have the ability to work in different spaces, including corporate offices, coworking spaces, public spaces, and from home.
Over the last year, WeWork took this opportunity to introduce hybrid concepts such as hub-and-spoke (satellite offices), de-densification (spaces with reduced office density to be scaled accordingly), and Collaboration Hub (a flexible, customizable workplace design enhancing teamwork and creativity). Through WeWork All Access, members can access any WeWork locations, wherever is most convenient for them, and the company will launch On-Demand (pay-as-you-go workspace) in SEA later this year.
WeWork SEA Members
The emphasis on flexibility is echoed by our existing and new members, with a 10% increase in the enterprise segment for WeWork SEA. Across the region, WeWork has tracked renewed and new commitments from companies such as OPPO, Thales, Payoneer, Affinidi, Indepay, and Katalon. Confidence in WeWork’s solutions is further reinforced with more than 50% of WeWork’s global members having commitments longer than 12 months, contributing to an average full commitment term of well over 15 months.
Against an economic landscape that increasingly focuses on cash flow efficiency and productivity, lies a growing demand for optionality and collaboration in supporting business operations. Beyond sectors like finance and technology, WeWork’s workplace solution is getting traction with diverse industries such as pharmaceutical, government, and education across SEA. The government sector is particularly a significant driver for WeWork in Singapore, with a growth of more than 60% from last year. LingoAce, a Chinese-learning platform for learners aged four to 15, is another company that has scaled with WeWork as it expands across the region. LingoAce had first set up its headquarters in Singapore with WeWork. Fueled by increased demand for online language learning and new fundings, LingoAce leveraged WeWork’s presence in SEA and expanded into Thailand and Indonesia.
Leading WeWork SEA will be the newly appointed General Manager for Australia and SEA, Balder Tol. As WeWork’s first Australian hire in 2016, Tol’s member-first approach grew Australia’s membership to over 12,000 members across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. Not only has he established WeWork Australia as a reliable and trusted partner for enterprises, but he has also been at the forefront of leading the return to the office and economic recovery strategy for companies in Australia.
In his new role, Tol will continue to be based in Sydney and oversee WeWork SEA (Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand) and Australia. He will report to Samit Chopra, Managing Director, International (Strategy and Operations) based in Singapore.
“Balder is an inspiring and engaging leader, well-liked by his team, members, and the industry, and is a proven strategic partner to WeWork’s stakeholders. Given the dynamic and diverse nature of SEA, Balder is undoubtedly the best person to lead the region. I am confident and excited to see how he advances SEA and Australia, at a time when our value proposition is stronger than ever,” said Chopra.
Tol also commented, “This role could not have come at a more pivotal time. This year marks my fifth anniversary with WeWork and we are at an inflection point for workplace innovation. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the team as we redefine the flexible workplace market as cities start to open and organizations start to plan their return to the office strategies. I am looking forward to partnering closely with the team to advance WeWork SEA by delivering an unmatched workplace experience.”
Before WeWork, Tol was General Manager of Tank Stream Labs and a founding team member of Airbnb Australia. Tol holds a Masters in Management from the University of Sydney.