By Jenina P. Ibañez , Reporter

CO-WORKING SPACES firm WeWork said that it is optimistic about its business growth in the Philippines, especially when more foreign investors expand in the country.

“There are great underlying real estate fundamentals in Manila as well as great underlying economic fundamentals,” WeWork Southeast Asia Head of Growth Elizabeth Fuller said in a virtual roundtable on Tuesday.

The global company has been shifting its focus to larger corporate clients as office space demand weakened amid the public health crisis. In the Philippines, WeWork members that usually have over 500 full-time employees globally increased by 10% between March to July last year.

Ms. Fuller said Philippine recovery from the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic could encourage the expansion of foreign firms.

“Once the specific pandemic situation is a bit more under control in the medium-term will have a big effect. And a lot of the companies that have in the past looked to the Philippines as a place to expand will actually be able to do that more because they’ve realized that a larger percentage of their workforce can be working from different places.”

Real estate services firms like JLL Philippines said that business process outsourcing will likely lead office demand this year, which overall is expected to be subdued.

WeWork has been planning new flexible designs to reduce office density to account for social distancing.

WeWork’s business has been curtailed in some markets in Southeast Asia more than others, Ms. Fuller said, depending on lockdown restrictions.

WeWork Companies, Inc. revenues declined by eight percent in the third quarter last year compared to the previous quarter, Bloomberg reported. The company’s plans for an initial public offering in 2019 failed.

WeWork Chief Executive Officer Sandeep Mathrani said that the firm is on track to reach profitability by the fourth quarter this year.

The company’s Philippines spaces are in Makati and Taguig City.