DURHAM – WeWork is scrambling to remove around 1,600 retro phone booths from its U.S. and Canada locations after elevated levels of formaldehyde were detected inside the booths.
But more than a week after the co-working giant issued a statement acknowledging the situation, phone booths still remain inside the firm’s One Glenwood location in Raleigh.
Asked if any action had been taken, an employee confirmed by phone: “None of yet. As soon as action is taken, we will issue the appropriate statement.”
It is unclear if the phone booths still remain at its Durham location in the One City Center. WeWork has a total of six locations around North Carolina.
Formaldehyde is commonly used in wood construction and manufacturing, and is known to be a human carcinogen. Exposure at elevated levels can cause eye, skin, nose and throat irritation, and potentially some types of cancer.
In an email sent to members last week, a WeWork spokesperson said it is working to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.
“After a member informed us of odor and eye irritation, WeWork performed an analysis, including having an outside consultant conduct a series of tests on a sampling of phone booths.
“Upon receiving results late last week, we began to take all potentially impacted phone booths out of service. We have identified approximately 1,600 phone booths in some of our U.S. and Canada locations that may be impacted.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are also taking approximately 700 additional phone booths out of service while we conduct more testing.”
The news comes at a tense time for the company. Earlier this week, Japanese conglomerate Softbank confirmed a massive deal to bail out WeWork after its failed initial public offering last month.
The deal will give SoftBank up to 80 percent ownership of the startup. The Japanese company is pumping $5 billion into The We Company and accelerating a $1.5 billion equity investment originally due next year. It’s also offering to buy up to $3 billion worth of stock from existing investors and shareholders.
Meanwhile, media reports are focused on looming job cuts from a workforce of some 15,000.