In what is being heralded as the first deal of its kind, the global workplace provider Regus has signed a deal to open “third place” business hubs at three of British Land’s retail properties.
The first Regus Express centres will be piloted at Meadowhall in Sheffield, Broughton Shopping Park in Chester and Fort Kinnaird Shopping Park in Edinburgh, before being rolled out across the landlord’s other shopping complexes nationwide.
The hubs will be located in space formerly occupied by management offices and range in size from 1,300 to 2,000sq ft. All will offer business people a quiet, professional environment with co-working space, private workstations, complementary refreshments, secure wi-fi and meeting rooms.
Both companies say the new high-tech hubs will prove popular not only with professionals dropping in during a shopping trip, but also as a business destination in their own right. They will also be a more organised “third place” to work, bridging the gap between the traditional office and home usually filled by internet cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots.
According to a Regus survey, 42 per cent of people now work from locations other than their companies’ main offices for half the week or more. And two-thirds of Regus hub members no longer have fixed offices.
The joint venture also shows that investors want to see a bigger range of services made available at shopping centres and malls. Drop-in offices are one way of cashing in on changing professional needs, reflected on the consumer side by the spread of in-store click-and-collect facilities.
“Although a shopping centre might seem like an unconventional work environment, it is precisely this type of location where we see strongest demand for flexible workspace,” explained Phil Kemp, global managing director of Regus Third Place. “With the rise of mobility, work and leisure time is blurring, and people want to work wherever it suits them. This is a global trend and we are continually extending our network to provide greater support for flexible workers.”
Over the past year Regus has announced multiple “third place” partnerships in the transport sector, including all four of the UK’s motorway service area operators and is set to open offices at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 plus Gatwick and Birmingham airports later this year. It is currently working with several other retailers, transport operators and hotel chains to “help them support the changing needs of their customers and take advantage of the lucrative new revenue stream that Regus Express presents”.
Customers with certain membership packages will be able to make use of the pilot retail centre hubs as part of the existing Regus chain. Others will be able to access the space at a rate of £5 per hour or £10 for the whole day.
Charles Maudsley is head of retail at British Land. said: “This is an exciting partnership that will enable us to continue to broaden the landlord services we provide,” he said. “Our retail portfolio encompasses locally preferred, accessible, high quality locations making us the natural partner of choice for Regus and this format will bring high-specification workspace and business services to our consumers and visitors.”
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