A computer, a reliable internet connection, and a place to work is all that you might need in a coworking space. For remote workers, that might mean finding a spot at a traditional coworking center or internet cafe, or perhaps somewhere less traditional like a restaurant. Now, with the ever-growing creative expansion of the industry, workers of all kinds can even find a coworking space at a mall.
According to a study from The Wall Street Journal, the rise in mall vacancies stood at a staggering 9.1% by the end of September in 2018, which matched its peak from 2011. There are a few factors that are contributing to this increase in mall vacancies, such as rising costs in property and rent. However, perhaps the biggest reason for a decline in foot traffic in malls is the convenience of online shopping that consumers can now do. However, though the numbers are bleak at most shopping centers, there are still a few paths to profitability and success One strategy involves turning one-time retail locations into coworking centers, creating a harmonious balance between coworking and retail.
Industrious has become a leader in providing coworking centers within malls and perfecting how coworking and retail can benefit each other. Their Scottsdale location has proven how coworking at the mall can become successful for other coworking managers and operators. An example of this occurs within their Fashion Square shopping center located in Arizona. With free parking, accessibility to the food court, and closely situated near stores like Nordstrom and Apple, their coworking centers have provided amazing coworking experiences for tenants while hardly having to front any additional costs beyond rent thanks to these amenities the mall already provides to consumers. A food court means a coworking manager doesn’t have to worry about stocking their kitchen with an abundance of food choices and free parking offered from the mall can result in lower monthly rents compared to an office building.
Individual companies have already begun to think about how they can turn those retail vacancies into coworking centers. Coworking At The Mall, based in Chicago, is a prime example of how to bring coworking and retail together. The company offers packages for potential new coworking members and provides access to spaces with high-speed wifi, comfortable lounges, kitchen spaces with essentials, and even rentable conference rooms. On the flip side, if there is a startup that is looking to get their product out to market, Coworking At The Mall will work with them to create a pop-up shop, stand, or experience within a retail center or mall for the product to be showcased. This more involved partnership between the space operator and the coworking members is tailored to maximize the customer exposure for both parties.
Deciding on the type of coworking format within the mall can be crucial to having a thriving coworking center. A coworking operator can choose whether they want their location to be a retail launchpad, which can be convenient for entrepreneurs who are looking for a suitable place to showcase a physical product. Telework hubs, business boosters, and creative coalitions are three other concepts that don’t necessarily appeal to the freelancer with a physical product, although they can just as easily backfill any vacant retail spaces and still cater to corporate workers and creative minds. Coworking at the mall and deciding on which type of format you want to go with can be determined by the retail location you choose.
The decline in physical retail locations in malls mixed with the demand for coworking centers has provided a harmonious match that not only benefits coworking tenants but landlords and coworking managers as well. Coworking and retail are becoming a new norm, and it could be coming soon to a mall near you.