Workplace Trends: Coworking Spaces Are Finding New Homes in Shopping Malls

Elizabeth Faulkner

Recycling isn’t just limited to plastic, paper and cardboard these days. These recycling mainstays are now joined by space — more specifically, retail space in malls. According to Fast Company, finding new uses for vacant space in suburban shopping centers is on the rise as landlords look for unique businesses that will add traffic to their properties. Coworking tenants are providing a great solution.

In today’s digital age of remote workers, the benefits are plenty. Companies are acutely aware that employees want to avoid wasting time commuting to an office when they could be more productive working closer to home. But at the same time, the amenities available to an employee at the office are equally important. Coworking spaces provide an ideal balance; they allow employees to remain in the suburbs where they live, while still having access to free coffee and private conference rooms. And while an urban location is ideal for coffee shops and retail, shopping malls provide all those things and more — with free parking!

One Size Does Not Fit All

Coworking in retail spaces provides a wealth of options. One recent white paper from Jones Lang LaSalle grouped coworking spaces into four different categories:

  • Retail Launchpads. At a retail launchpad, tech companies and other startups can intersect with shoppers. Office space is fused with spaces for pop-up shops or showcases that mall-goers can browse through, as is the case with the new company Bespoke. These types of coworking spaces are expensive, but the experience level is high.
  • Business Boosters. These coworking spaces go beyond providing office space by also offering consulting services, creative support and even classes. A business booster would be a perfect fit for startups who need help turning their business idea into reality.
  • Creative Coalition. Artists are business people as well, and finding the perfect place to be creative and productive can be challenging. In creative coalitions, collaboration and community draw artists looking for workspaces, support and networking opportunities.
  • Telework Hubs. The most common type of coworking space, these hubs provide office space and conference rooms, but little else. Telework hubs are the most popular for suburban shopping centers, representing nearly 80% of the organizations examined in the white paper.

Coworking Is Here to Stay

No matter the type of business, coworking spaces are here and are expected to continue to grow. As managing files with digital tools becomes more mainstream, employees can easily be mobile and work from anywhere. Coworking spaces also provide space to startups that may not yet be able to afford their own offices.

Meanwhile, shopping centers need to fill space and provide their shoppers with offerings that enhance their lifestyles. Adding coworking tenants to the mix ensures a steady stream of traffic to the property and, in some cases, makes the center more of a destination.

The nine-to-five grind is in the process of a significant makeover. As this trend grows, trains and traffic jams may be replaced with shops and free parking. Wasted time commuting could be converted into time with family and friends. Employees are looking for a new working normal, and coworking spaces in shopping centers can provide a great alternative to a traditional office setting, all while filling up emptying malls. It’s a win-win for companies and retail landlords alike.

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