Office Depot Converting Stores into Coworking Spaces

In a change of strategy to some of their business practices, office supplies retailer Office Depot is testing the conversion of its stores into new coworking spaces.

The move, which the company hopes will lead to a better use of it’s 1,400 physical stores, isn’t an unusual one when compared to current industry trends. Just last year, office supplies giant Staples created a partnership with the co-working startup company Workbar. From this agreement, both Staples and Workbar were able to create several new coworking spaces with modern designs which formed as part of the wider business offering. Other retailers have also began redesigning unfilled store space to convert them into service hubs and customer service centres.

Testing the Concept

Whilst a much wider rollout of the new coworking spaces is expected in the near future, Office Depot have begun the testing stages of the project at one of their spaces in America. Based in Los Gatos, California, the ‘Workonomy Hub’ has been open for access since August. Office Depot have branded their first attempt at a co-working and business-service hub as “a place businesses can learn about and take advantage of consulting services that cover marketing, business development and staffing.

Features listed inside the hub include:

  • A 5,000 square foot co-working area.
  • Open ‘Hot Desks’.
  • A lounge, complete with Starbucks kiosk.
  • Closed office spaces.
  • An online order pickup and shipping area.

Extra Benefits to Office Depot Business Customers

Talking more on how the coworking spaces offer additional benefits to its business customers, Chief Retail Officer at Office Depot, Kevin Mofitt explains:

“The traditional retail model is highly focused on convenience, and making one sale today; we have that as a component of our businesses, but we want that longer-term relationship with the customer. [Small-business] customers are already coming to us for marketing services, print services and tech services, and for us it’s a natural adjacency to the products and services we already offer.”

Moffit summarises:

“Our approach is that it’s everything you need under a single roof with support from dedicated specialists and associates.”

Future Plans

Currently, Office Depot have yet to comment on whether their current ‘Workonomy Hub’ in California is a profitable venture. But in order to help meet the fresh demand for great service offerings within and outside of the hub, the company has enlisted the help of staff made from their acquisition of CompuCom last year.

On the profitability side of things, CEO of Office Depot, Gerry Smith, has remarked to investors that much of the early findings and results from the project are encouraging to see. He adds that this is due in part to the co-working space “driving higher sales for services and products compared to the average store”.

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Sam Rose