All Work and No Play?

Smart retailers look to co-working spaces as a means to drive traffic
Posted September 5, 2018

If there’s one thing Americans do well and often, it’s work. In fact, a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that more than 20 percent of Americans – that’s about 25 million of us – work an average of 49 hours per week. And almost half that number toil away for 59 hours or more weekly.

It’s no surprise then that co-working spaces like WeWork, Knotel and others are more popular than ever among our on-the-go, work-obsessed population. A recent study by real estate investment management firm JLL (Chicago) reports that approximately 43 million Americans work remotely at least part time, with millennials expected to drive that number even higher in the future.

But how does this trend translate to our world of retail, you may ask? Interestingly enough, the JLL study, titled “Can coworking work at the mall?” explores this very connection. Not only are co-working spaces filling the vacant retail spaces that plague our malls and shopping centers, they are also driving much-needed traffic to these locations.

An added bonus: many co-working companies are integrating retail offerings into their business models, and some retailers are beginning to jump on the bandwagon, as well. Office Depot (Boca Raton, Fla.) recently announced it’s testing Workonomy, a co-working space at its Los Gatos, Calif., location. The report cites other examples across the country, with CoWork at the Mall opening a 15,000-square-foot space at Water Tower Place on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and high-end co-working space No. 18 planting its flag at The Shops at Buckhead Atlanta this fall.

Next month at IRDC (, be sure to check out the breakout session, “The Collective Spirit,” which tells the story of The Collective, a new social club in Seattle featuring a gym, bar, hammock garden and collective workspaces, that creates a “third space” for visitors.

As the definition of retail continues to evolve and expand, look to smart retailers to create hospitality, food and co-working mashups to drive additional revenue, meet consumer needs and keep the footfall in their establishments healthy.