Office Depot tests co-working space in 'Workonomy' expansion
Office Depot on Monday said it's expanding its "Workonomy" business platform aimed at small and medium businesses (SMBs), offering more tools, services, in-person advisers and technical support. The office-supplies retailer is also now running a "Workonomy Hub" co-working pilot in its Los Gatos, California, store, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
By the end of the month, the company will bring Workonomy Tech Services Kiosks to 141 stores in Florida, Georgia and Texas. The kiosks feature on-demand access to the company's technology experts, who offer installation and consultation support. Also by then, Workonomy Self-Service Print & Copy Kiosks will expand to more than 1,000 stores nationwide, the company said.
Office Depot has also added Workonomy branding to the subscription BizBox services it launched last year, the company said. Office Depot said it will continue to roll out additional Workonomy solutions in the coming months.
Office supplies retailers have long worked with businesses to supply their office needs, but sales of paper clips and toner have taken a back seat to a more complex suite of business solutions. Since its acquisition of IT provider CompuCom Systems last year, Office Depot has been betting big on that transition.
Last November's BizBox platform launch itself was built on that acquisition and reflects the company's strategic shift to become a broader business services platform. The company appears confident in the potential. Nearly 6 million small and medium businesses sit within three miles of its stores, Office Depot CEO Gerry Smith noted in a statement.
The shift also means a host of investments. Office Depot is hiring and retraining store staff to reflect the new positioning, for example. That includes having 6,000 certified technicians available for home or office installations and consultations across the nation, and training "Business Pros," small-business field sales teams who offer business services, products and technology, the company said.
Office Depot is also sweeping its more basic services into the Workonomy branding, as with the Self-Service Print & Copy Kiosks. Those kiosks can print and scan to and from multiple sources, provide access to email and cloud storage and allow customers to pay for products and services. Office Depot's "Workonomy Pack & Ship" also allows customers to generate shipping labels online and drop off packages to ship at Office Depot or OfficeMax locations.
When it comes to the co-working experiment, Office Depot is behind Staples, which has been tied up with workspace startup Workbar since 2016 at three of its Boston-area stores. Revamping store space as office supplies retail sales recede is a logical move for both retailers, as long as their mostly suburban big box locations attract enough customers. More broadly, some retailers are likely to see reductions of 30% to 50% of their store space, Alan Treadgold, Global Retail Lead at multinational advisory firm PA Consulting, said in an email to Retail Dive.
Workspace is poised to help fill that impending void. As the number of remote workers in various industries grows — 43% percent of employed Americans work that way at least some of the time — flexible co-working spaces will grow to 30% of all office stock by 2030, commercial real estate firm JLL has found. But most of those are in premium malls or downtown locations, according to that report.
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