Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Coworking, where the new meets the old

Several years ago, coworking was a trend, part of the general trend of working away from an office. Perhaps you'd just park yourself in a coffee shop, or perhaps you'd rent time at a place such as Citizen Space. But people working in coffee shops initially created a backlash, and I just belatedly discovered that even the venerable Citizen Space is no more.

But companies are still entering the coworking market, such as Workbar. For those who aren't familiar with the coworking concept, Workbar has an explanation about the practice:

At Workbar we understand that people don’t always work the way they used to. Technology has made the workforce more mobile, yet has also increased the need for shared resources, human interaction, and fun at work. So we’ve created a network of coworking spaces where independent professionals, start-ups, small businesses, and remote employees of larger enterprises can enjoy a vibrant community and high quality office amenities at an affordable price.

Of course, if you're going to go out and create a coworking space for people, you need...space. And Workbar has, um, worked out a mutual win-win for itself and a much older company:

As consumer needs around commerce are changing, commerce hubs are reimagining and redesigning their physical locations to meet customers halfway, so to speak. Staples is joining in on that trend, and is thus converting some of its retail locations for office supplies into temporary office spaces for rent.

Staples, in conjunction with office-sharing startup Workbar, is looking to open three Boston-area communal workplaces. The hope is that the affiliation will draw more small business owners and mobile professionals into Staples locations. Staples needs the customers, as foot traffic has been on the decline since 2009.

This could be an interesting trend. As more people shop online, and brick and mortar establishments try to reinvent themselves, they're looking for all sorts of ways to use up their leased retail space. If this use brings in more customers for the establishment's primary business, all the better.
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