Coworking from a mall may soon be the norm

It seems every temporarily unused piece of retail space is being colonized for coworking as the gig economy grows, as well as to accommodate the 43% of American workers who work remotely at least some of the time. Previously, we reported on startups that utilized restaurants and bars that were closed during the day. Big box stores like Home Depot and Staples have also created coworking hubs in some of their locations.

Now, it’s time for coworking to invade long-dwindling malls, since people certainly aren’t using them to shop. Coworking in malls reduces the impact of vacancy by putting people in the malls during the day. And, so the thinking goes, by putting people back in the malls to work, they might even help attract new retail tenants.

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Let’s go to the mall

Last fall, CNBC reported that coworking startup Industrious was collaborating with mall owners Macerich to reconstruct empty spaces in malls across the country. A vacant Barney’s at Arizona’s Scottsdale Fashion Square had plans to be turned into a coworking space. Industrious will provide office space to multiple companies under one roof, WeWork-style.

Now, Industrious has offices set up in six suburban malls, reports Fast Company. They include Short Hills Mall in New Jersey (located in a former Saks Fifth Avenue), and Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, California.

Even more coworking players want to get in on the suburban game and smaller cities, Fast Company says. Coworking was traditionally located in major city centers. The reason for the outward expansion? There are more big companies that might want to rent office space located in the suburbs.

Expect expansion to continue – coworking space is predicted to grow at retail properties by a rate of 25% annually through 2023, according to a 2018 report from Jones Lang LaSalle.

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