When many people think of an office space, they find themselves envisioning a large cubicle farm with hundreds of people stuffed into a fixed work area. In today’s modern workplace, where hybrid work is becoming more of a norm, the general idea of a cubicle-clad office space tends to give people a sense of gloom.
Fortunately, the concept of office workspaces has changed drastically, leading many businesses to explore coworking as a viable office solution.
In recent months, coworking itself is evolving alongside of the new and preferred style of working remotely and flexibly. The line between office spaces, retail, and industrial complexes is becoming less defined, as retailers are recognizing the benefits that can come with offering coworking space as an added bonus of their properties.
Where coworking and retail meet
The concept of bringing coworking and retail together is not only innovative, but aligns from a business growth perspective. For retailers in particular, the crossover can create test sites for new products, ensure added visibility for stores, and increase foot traffic to established businesses.
One example is the recent collaboration between coworking giant, WeWork, and the furniture company, Feather. The two companies signed a contract stating that all WeWork coworking spaces will be furnished by Feather. There are multiple advantages for both entities in this case — WeWork spaces are furnished with fun, modern furniture, while Feather has a venue to display its products rather than having to rent space for a retail store.
Other retail companies are also partnering with coworking entities to get their products placed in coworking environments. For instance, snack companies, tech companies, or small appliance companies can benefit from having contracts with coworking spaces. Employees can use the products, test them out, and build relationships with the brands without a hard commitment.
Benefits of a coworking environment
The benefits of a retail-coworking alliance go way beyond the partnered companies, as there are advantages for the members utilizing the coworking spaces as well.
For one, remote workers, startups, or teams that choose to use coworking spaces do so because they are fun and convenient locations where they can be productive and embrace flexibility. However, the location of the coworking space can be a major draw, too.
Some industry leaders believe that coworking spaces might save malls, leading many operators to focus on leasing space in malls and hotels. There is evidence of mall owners and coworking space operators partnering to target multi-property rollouts.
Coworking in malls benefits employees because they are close to many amenities and conveniences. Employees can run over to purchase a gift for a friend’s birthday during a break, or they can pick up lunch from a variety of different vendors. They can hit the gym or a movie after work without having to travel across town.
Moreover, complexes like malls can alleviate the need to pay for parking or traveling all the way downtown for work. Coworking locations can be flexible, meaning employees can work in different places based on some of their other obligations.
Coworking in malls: a solution here to stay
Regardless of how some business owners may feel about having their employees spread out in a handful of different coworking spaces or working from a local mall, hybrid work is here to stay.
In lieu of the effects of Covid-19 on preferred ways of working, today’s employees are interested in finding a location that works in tandem with their personal lives rather than being tied to a fixed office every day. Further, these types of flex spaces often help employees save money on commuting, provide them with basic amenities, and in the case of mall-coworking spaces, allow them to try new products that could catapult their self-owned business to the next level.
The connection between coworking and retail businesses will continue to change and provide substantial opportunities for both industries. Retail businesses can benefit from displaying their products in coworking locations, and flex operators can benefit from the added visibility and foot traffic that stems from being located in business centers like malls and shopping centers.