Why retailers are creating workspace for customers....
The early 18th Century was a time of invention; poets, philosophers, scientists and free thinkers were born. The creation of the steam engine sparked the industrial revolution and we leapt forward with great strides in science.
It is no coincidence that many of these great innovations happened just after the rise of drinking coffee and tea in coffee houses. We went from a boozy nation sitting in Ale Houses to sharp-thinking coffee and tea drinking innovators. The coffee house played an important role by becoming the place where people came together (sober) to share ideas, learning and collaborate. The 3rd space was born.
Starbucks created its empire from the 3rd space, a home away from home where people can meet and gather socially. Now, the shared office is fast becoming the new 3rd space where ideas and collaborations are born. Where companies and individuals come together to work on projects and share innovations.
Over the past few years we have seen the rise and rise of the shared office. These workspaces are more than simply a place to work, they give people a sense of belonging, promote the creation of real relationships and build the social aspect of doing business. People are choosing a shared office that suits their principals. They choose to associate themselves with the design, style of working, and the other people using the space. The workspace is no longer just functional, it tells other people what type of person you are, and what type of business you are.
Retailers are realising that they can be part of this new way of working, and are creating spaces that help them build deeper relationships with their customers. Retailers are creating partnerships with their customers through workspace and helping them to launch products. They are using the workspace to bring customers into stores, where they are given space and time to associate themselves with the brand. In addition, it associates retailers with the innovation and creativity of the people/business using the workspace.
Here are a few examples of retailers doing Retail Workspace well:
Cafe Ferdinand/Vodafone An informal 'members club' environment, where customers can interact with products
Forge & Co at Heals A convenient central London location place for customers to work and meet
The Office Group at Old street station Providing a break from the norm and a fresh environment for customers to work in
If you are thinking about adding workspace to your retail space, here are some points to consider:
- What is the key reason for people not to work from the office or at home? A sense of lifestyle-related community & belonging is vital - creating moments for social interaction.
- What type of work will people to do in your space? A workspace needs different tempos and moods according to the type of task; space for focus and space for collaboration. "Balanced workspaces where people have the autonomy to choose their workspace based on task or project at hand are more effective and higher performing." Diane Hoskins, Co-chief executive at Geiser
- How long will people be staying? Are they on-the-go? A quick email check? Cup of coffee? These require fast service, convenience, easy charging. Are they staying the entire day? They may need break spaces, focus/collaboration, lunch and meeting rooms.
- How much do you want them to engage with the rest the retail store? Draw people through/into the wider store and meet their needs.
- Are you a marketplace of knowledge? "The knowledge economy now needs spaces that support the ability to capture these ideas: to share, communicate, iterate and quickly develop them into sustainable business opportunities." Steelcase 360
- Or are you a venue for Social Interaction? A space where like-minded people can meet and interact, like the now renowned Ace Hotel Lobby.