Office to Residential Conversion Symposium

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Co-Working Meets Retail: Offices Reimagined

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Whether working the daily grind or a dream career, our jobs take up a lot of our lifetime — over 13 years on average, according to Huffington Post. Taking the form of cubicles, coffee shops, and coworking spaces, we’re spending an increasingly large amount of time at the office. Providing a change of pace for employees and the perfect opportunity to increase awareness and sales, brands are recognizing the potential of reimagining the form and function of the office space.

Framing New Forms

After enduring the vast cubicle farms of the 1980s or the recent hot desk open office trend, it’s no surprise that employees and freelancers are opting for new forms of office spaces — working from their homes, cafes, or whatever internet-enabled location best suits them. According to IWG, 70 percent of professionals work remotely at least once a week, and 53 percent work remotely at least half of the week. Taking advantage of changing consumer preferences to ditch the office for alternative locations, companies are creating office replacements that welcome in the remote workforce, driving brand awareness along the way.

The average American spends 95% of their lives indoors and 50% of that at work, statistics which sparked inspiration for L.L.Bean’s latest campaign, “Be an Outsider at Work.” The brand partnered with coworking provider, Industrious, to create the first ever mobile outdoor coworking space, complete with free Wi-Fi, power hookups, and active workspace furniture. The campaign was a smashing success, generating a spike in organic website traffic, gaining just shy of 4 million campaign video views, and winning a Short Award in the Retail and E-Commerce category.

When designing The Apollo, Streetsense saw the opportunity to fully maximize the lobby space for not only Apollo residents, but the surrounding DC community. With the addition of the integrated-yet independent coffee shop in the lobby of the apartment building, The Wydown allows The Apollo to open its doors to the growing freelance and remote workforce and bring attention to the apartment building. Customers can work from the cafe or the stunning apartment lobby, eye apartment amenities, and experience The Apollo lifestyle while at “the office.”

Finding New Functions

Brick-and-mortar is finding a new function in the retail real estate ecosystem. Physical locations now focus less on stocking large inventories of products and more on communicating brand values and providing experiences to interact with the product. As omnichannel retailers are largely using their store locations to expose customers to their products to drive sales to the web, what are brands to do if they don’t have a brick-and-mortar store? Online-only brands are capturing consumers where they spend most of their days. Much like the concept of a shoppable hotel, shoppable workplaces garner exposure for online-exclusive brands.

Take online-only, direct-to-consumer furniture brand Burrow for example. Getting customers to sit on their couches proved to be a problem sans showroom or wholesaler. Burrow cleverly teamed up with retailers and coworking spaces to furnish interiors using their couches and chairs, presenting the perfect opportunity for try-before-you-buy showrooms without having to open brick-and-mortar locations.

Newly rebranded The We Company has also begun to dabble into retail in the office in what they’re calling “a modern retail space.” WeMRKT, located in WeWork offices offers apparel, office-essential supplies, food and beverage, and products from select WeWork member companies. As many of these member companies are direct-to-consumer brands, WeMRKT allows their member companies the opportunity to sell in the retail space without investing in brick-and-mortar.


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