• Only two U.S. WeWork sites have been closed amid the coronavirus pandemic
  • The company said it would increase cleaning of its co-working spaces
  • The company has been under enormous financial pressure since it had to pull its IPO last year as it watched its valuation plummet

Shared office space company WeWork has offered its workers $100-a-day bonuses to work from the company’s co-working spaces rather than from home, saying the company meets the definition of an essential business amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Only two WeWork sites in North America have been closed, the New York Times reported, and all sites in Europe are open. An internal memo reviewed offered the bonuses even though the work sites were virtually empty as state and local officials urged Americans to shelter in place.

A memo from Chief Operating Officer Shyam Gidumal told employees they could earn an extra $500 a week by going into work and the bonuses would be paid monthly.

“The bonus will be based on each employee’s contribution and presence in the office to address specific member needs. The bonus award will range from $100 per day and up to $500 per week,” the memo said.

The company said it considers itself an essential business under guidelines issued by New York state because it supplies mail, shipping, security and storage.

“WeWork is a service provider, and we have an obligation to keep our buildings open,” CEO Sandeep Mathrani and Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure said in a company email last week. “We too have members counting on us to remain open so they can run their companies to generate revenue, pay their people, and continue serving their customers.”

Claure and Mathrani also said they have increased cleaning at their sites.

The pandemic is just the latest blow to WeWork’s prospects. The company was forced to pull its initial public offering last year as it watched its valuation plummet. SoftBank, which has kept the company afloat, has threatened to walk away from a $3 billion tender offer, jeopardizing $1.1 billion in debt financing, the Times quoted a source as saying.

Analysts said if SoftBank walks away, it could doom WeWork as the coronavirus-prompted global recession takes hold.

“Business disruption related to the global recession, spread of coronavirus and uncertainty surrounding SoftBank’s longer term commitment to WeWork has placed added pressure on the long-term viability of the company,” Standard & Poor’s said in a statement Monday as it downgraded WeWork bonds to junk status.