Working from home was so 2020. This year, people want to work from their . . . local supermarket?
So says IWG, the FTSE 250 office landlord, which is opening a new flexible office space at a Tesco Extra in New Malden, south London.
The store’s upper mezzanine level — totalling 3,800 sq ft — has been fitted out with desks, co-working spaces and a meeting room. The office, which will be run under IWG’s Spaces brand, will open to workers towards the end of this month, although they won’t benefit from in-store perks or discounts.
“Convenience is, for some, not leaving their house or going to Starbucks,” Mark Dixon, the founder and chief executive of IWG, said. “For others, who don’t want the distractions that you get at Starbucks but still want to work locally, what better place than the local supermarket?”
Dixon, 62, plans to open more than 1,000 new offices this year and said he has been inundated with requests from retailers looking to repurpose their surplus space.
It was Tesco that first approached him about the possibility of opening an office in its store. “We’re talking [with Tesco] about other stores and we’re talking with other retailers as well,” he said. Dixon accepts the concept will raise eyebrows among some, but points out in-store cafés were a novelty a couple of decades ago. “Think of all the other things that you have in a supermarket today that you didn’t 20 years ago,” he added.
Dixon founded IWG, or Regus as it was then, in 1989. It is now the world’s biggest serviced offices provider, with about 3,500 centres in 120 countries. Dixon is its largest shareholder, with a 28.6 per cent stake worth close to £700 million.
Louise Goodland, head of strategic partnerships at Tesco, said it was “always looking to serve our customers and communities better”.