(Bloomberg)—For thousands of workers, the pandemic has upended the traditional office-based nine to five. Now even supermarkets are offering space to people who want to work closer to home.
Tesco Plc, the UK’s biggest grocer, has teamed up with IWG Plc, the flexible-office company that owns the Regus and Spaces brands, to convert excess space in a supermarket into a work hub. The site, a 3,800 square-foot mezzanine floor inside a Tesco Extra store in New Malden, south London, will house 12 desks, 30 co-working spaces and a meeting room.
Even as pandemic restrictions ease and employers seek to woo their staff back to the office, the shift to hybrid working looks set to continue. Employees are looking to keep the flexibility of working at or near home and for some employers it’s an opportunity to save money previously spent on pricey rent in city centers.
“People don’t want to spend hours commuting every day and instead want to live and work in their local communities,” IWG Chief Executive Officer Mark Dixon said in a statement. “A Tesco Extra in a suburban location, in the middle of a vibrant local community, is the perfect location for flexible-office space.”
IWG has called the shift to hybrid working “irreversible” and plans to add 1,000 new locations to its network in 2022. It didn’t say how many Tesco hubs are planned. The company reported its best-selling months in more than 30 years in the last quarter of 2021.
For Tesco, the move makes sense as supermarkets seek to monetize excess store space with more shoppers using online delivery. It coincides with a wider shift to the suburbs that began during the pandemic. IWG will manage the south London workspace, which will be accessible to its clients for a small fee, Dixon said in an interview.
The space will be available during normal store hours, which typically run from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday to Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
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