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Staples Tries Co-Working Spaces To Court Millennials And Entrepreneurs (pilotonline.com) 177

Are there any Slashdot readers who are doing their work in co-working spaces? An anonymous reader writes: Staples office-supply stores is aggressively repositioning its brand to entice new customers like tech entrepreneurs and small businesses, reports The New York Times. "A case in point: Staples' partnership with Workbar, a Boston-based co-working company founded in 2009... Workbar attracts the coveted millennial generation, as well as entrepreneurs, a potential pipeline for new small business customers." Three co-working spaces have now been added to Staples stores, including their original flagship store in Boston, and the Times spotted funky art, skylights, an artificial putting green, as well as gourmet coffee "and -- on some nights -- happy hours with beer and wine."

"This blend of old and new shows how Staples Inc. is digging up its roots as one of the first, and most successful, big-box retailers. Under Shira Goodman, the company's new chief executive officer, Staples hopes it can reverse its years of declining sales, unlike so many other retailers left for dead in the internet age."

The company also reports online orders already make up 60% of their sales, which they hope to push to 80% by 2020, according to the Motley Fool. "Selling products, 50% of which are outside of traditional office supply categories, to businesses large and small has proven to be a resilient business for Staples."
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Staples Tries Co-Working Spaces To Court Millennials And Entrepreneurs

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  • Just another way to hide the super cheap open office plan behind "hipster" words. Even cubicles would be an improvement.

    • Is that all they are offering? I've looked into co-worker spaces and "incubators" last year when I was working on some pet projects (working from home all the time wasn't as attractive as it sounds). Most places offered a lot of flexibility, i.e. widely spaced hot desks, quiet cells, meeting rooms, break rooms, fluffy creativity rooms, the inevitable pool / pingpong / foosball tables, up to private offices with leases from a day to a year. And tables as shown in TFA. For lone wolves and small startups i
    • Just another way to hide the super cheap open office plan behind "hipster" words.

      If you like. If you're a startup with little cash, co working spaces are super useful. Instead of renting whole office, you rent a single desk. Oddly enough it's rather a lot cheaper. And rather than being isolated in a lone office, there's other people near by, so it's not an isolating experience. And some of them provide useful networking stuff in order to compete.

      Does that make them hipster? I don't really care. You don't

      • so it's not an isolating experience.

        And there we have it, folks; millennials' real priorities - fulfilling-emotional "needs" - eventual float to the surface. ;)

      • There's no reason a one-person start-up has to be isolating. There's this thing called the Internet, where you can post ads looking for other people who might want to share your place for the same fee and free coffee (unlike Staples). You get to choose who you work around, and they can improve their workspace by setting up a second, larger screen so they're not struggling with the laptop screens lack of real estate. They could even park a desktop there for the duration - not something you can do at a co-wor

        • There's no reason a one-person start-up has to be isolating. There's this thing called the Internet, where you can post ads looking for other people who might want to share your place for the same fee and free coffee (unlike Staples).

          So, co-working spaces are a bad idea and your genius solution is to not use one, but instead run one of your own in addition to your own business? Brilliant!

          and they can improve their workspace by setting up a second, larger screen so they're not struggling with the laptop scr

          • If you "run one of your own", you get to pick and choose which one or two others you're going to share space with. That's important. Maybe you want people with complementary interests; maybe you want people with the same interests. You get to choose who you work with, and whether pets are allowed. In the early days, dogs were allowed in most start-ups. Not so much now. It's been shown that just having a dog sitting in the corner doing nothing lowers arguments in meetings. That doesn't happen with the "workb

            • If you "run one of your own", you get to pick and choose which one or two others you're going to share space with.

              So now in addition to the long leases of actual offices, you've got the administrative overhead of running a co-working space, vetting applicants and enforcing contracts like kicking them out for bad behaviour. You're making it sound like less and less work each time. I've got a great idea, how about we out-source, and let someone else amortise the long lease risk over many sub-letters and let

              • Who's talking about leasing office space. I've got two spare bedrooms. If I were still into coding, looking for a couple others who want to do the same would make sense.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I must be getting old. Because to me a "co-working space" is a two-person office, with floor-to-ceiling walls and a door.

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrLogic17 ( 233498 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @07:22PM (#54199797) Journal

    "Workbar attracts the coveted millennial generation, "

    Wait, since when were millennials coveted as employees? Given their stereotyped work ethic, I'd think it would be the opposite.

    And yet again, the Gen X'res are forgotten and passed over again by the media.

    • I keep reading stories that millennials are also woefully unemployed. It seems odd to try to court people who would literally work for peanuts. Not to mention the fact that co-working, the latest buzzword for "not valued enough to have an office", is basically the most miserable work environment I can think of. You only need one loud overtalker and productivity effectively drops to zero.

      But, yeah... gig economy... millennials... open office... buzzword, buzzword. Hell, why not have a mandatory skinny j

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's false that "millennials" are more unemployed compared to other generations.

        It is true that more live with their parents and are not married. But just as many are employed.

        • It is true that more live with their parents and are not married.

          Maybe in the US.

          A growing trend seen in Europe is millenial living flatmates in a shared apartment.
          So, yeah they also tend not to live up the "married living in a house with a dog by mid 20s" cliché of their parents.
          The only difference with the US is that they're not staying in their parent's basement (probably due to europe being more densely populated, and the parents not having basements available for that due to living in apartments)

      • While not great for concentration, pop-up/improvised workspaces offer a number of opportunities that you don't get working from home; co-working tries to mimic that. Most co-working spaces offer everything from cafe tables to private offices.

        For Staples, it is a smart move to maximize use of real-estate they are stuck with.
      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @08:37PM (#54200091) Homepage

        Not to mention the fact that co-working, the latest buzzword for "not valued enough to have an office", is basically the most miserable work environment I can think of. You only need one loud overtalker and productivity effectively drops to zero.

        I think it's one of those "when it works it's amazing, so let's try to make everything and everyone like that". The best scrum team I've met was super chatty, they were constantly bouncing ideas and questions around and even though I'd take on any one of them in a one-on-one coding competition as a team they'd teach the Borg a thing or two about a hive mind. It was like looking at a professional sports team at play, sure every player has their role but if you didn't have any coordination the team that plays well together would overrun a team of highly talented individuals.

        The problem is, not everybody works like that. Some talk way too much, some really ought to say something but doesn't. Putting great players and poor players together or lack of coordination can lead to a lot of frustration as some people do excellent work only to see it go to waste. I know I failed at that one at work recently, to me it was obvious since I've lived and breathed the solution I'm working on for some years but to a new person it wasn't obvious at all, so I completely failed to point him to the existing solution so he started looking at a new one. And I've written a lot of code that was for naught.

      • Skinny jeans have been hip since way before millennials.

        "And with your hair swung right
        And your pants too tight, it's gonna be all right"

        -The Byrds, "So You Want to Be a Rock n Roll Star?" (1967)

        Seriously, look at em:
        https://lastfm-img2.akamaized.... [akamaized.net]
        They look exactly like indie kids, just missing the Chuck Taylors, because I don't think those existed yet.
      • Not to mention the fact that co-working, the latest buzzword for "not valued enough to have an office"

        As someone who's done a fair bit of it, I thought co-working was "rent a desk in an office", and usually comes with very short (i.e. end of the current month, if you're not already too close) notice periods. Very useful to have if you're a startup, for example.

    • "Workbar attracts the coveted millennial generation, "

      Wait, since when were millennials coveted as employees? Given their stereotyped work ethic, I'd think it would be the opposite.

      And yet again, the Gen X'res are forgotten and passed over again by the media.

      Holy hell This!

      Millennials have not been too successful at working out in the workplace, and it isn't because of the surroundings. It's because their parents and schools have screwed them up so badly.

      And "them" is in general. Two of the best employees I've ever worked with were young women millennials. But outside those two, it went downhil really fast. The only saving grace was the problem ones quit quickly and moved back in with their parents or grandparents.

  • Since when is an office supply store adding a coffee shop/bar to their stores News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters?
  • seriously can someone explain what they are trying to do. I read something about something hip and chill music.

    • Say you are stuck with a 20-year lease on a big-box retail store for a commodity product that everyone just buys online now. You pay $1/square foot for the space. You realize that you could convert 10-20,000 square feet of non-performing space into something that has a value of $2.5-3.5/square foot, plus offers some follow-on benefit to the remaining store.

      Do you like money?
      • And selling "workbar memberships" at $130 a month is going to pay the bills? I guess they're going to make it up in coffee sales or something. So what happens when you want to show stuff to a client - do you buy them a membership too?
        • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @09:06PM (#54200149)

          I've heard dumber ideas. When you need supplies, you'll get them from the store you're already in. Ditto with coffee.

          These stores are stuck with floor space, retail employees, and other forms of overhead that competitors like Amazon don't have to worry about. It may be time to consider wacky ideas like creating a 20,000-square-foot Starbucks.

        • A serviced office runs $300-800/month, so $130 for a "work address is actually not a bad deal. Hell, an amortized cubicle runs over $500/month in most cities. In places where commute times are meaningful, having structured environments for employees to work from that are close to home is a huge advantage.
          • Lack of privacy, having to pack up your things when you need to go to the bathroom or skip out for half an hour for lunch (and drag it all with you), not having your own peripherals (printer/scanner/large 2nd screen) ... you might as well put the money towards a real home office.

            What next - bean counters saying "You're all being moved to work bars and we'll save SOOO much money"?

            • Lack of privacy, having to pack up your things when you need to go to the bathroom or skip out for half an hour for lunch (and drag it all with you), not having your own peripherals (printer/scanner/large 2nd screen) ... you might as well put the money towards a real home office.

              What next - bean counters saying "You're all being moved to work bars and we'll save SOOO much money"?

              It's call compromise. Some people need to make the compromise. Others do not. And no, sometimes you do not want to have a home office.

            • There are different arrangements; some places have lockers at the desk as well as external monitors and network resources.

              It is more of a social at,o sphere than working at home... some people need that.
      • Say you are stuck with a 20-year lease on a big-box retail store for a commodity product that everyone just buys online now. You pay $1/square foot for the space. You realize that you could convert 10-20,000 square feet of non-performing space into something that has a value of $2.5-3.5/square foot, plus offers some follow-on benefit to the remaining store. Do you like money?

        This. This is similar to Walmart turning closed warehouses into data centers. People treat smart business like the work of the devil or some shit like that.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      It's called coworking [wikipedia.org]. It's been a thing in medium to big size cities for about a decade or so.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The hope is to get people in store and then have to buy stuff to do their projects. The more people that sit around chatting all day about their dreams, the more some of them might need pens, paper, a new usb flatbed scanner, 3d printer supplies, a camera card and other artistic consumables.
      As the consumers are surrounded by project materials, they might spend at that location too as the creativity flows.
      Smarter people just find a deal online for the same consumables with free postage USA wide.
  • So, is this like how Barnes and Noble has a Starbucks inside? Or, is it more like how the local mall couldn't find enough individual shops to rent out the place, so they converted most of the bottom floor into a gym (ostensibly for exercise, not Pokemon)? Or, is this like when I ask the guy I think is a salesperson at Walmart to unlock the anti-theft case so I can buy something, but he can't help me because he's only there to hock DirecTV subscriptions?

    The "new economy" sucks.

    • You know you're growing up when you suddenly realize how bad Starbucks coffee actually is. Hint: try somewhere on the Italian end of town.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @08:12PM (#54200019)

    As long as the locations are near a convenient Office Depot for picking up supplies.

  • Theory: Staples Tries Co-Working Spaces To Court Millennials And Entrepreneurs.

    Reality: They attract hipsters, slackers and the occasional thief.

    • Theory: Staples Tries Co-Working Spaces To Court Millennials And Entrepreneurs.

      Reality: They attract hipsters, slackers and the occasional thief.

      And the old people who are tired of hanging out at McDonald's in the morning.

  • Seriously, how is this any better than working at your kitchen table? I've got a small computer desk with a laptop dock, full keyboard, trackball, and a wall-mounted monitor for those occasions when I work from home. In a few more months, I'll probably start working a portion of my week from home on a regular basis, and I'll probably add at least another monitor and set it up more like my main system.

    The chairs pictured in that article look awfully uncomfortable, and squinting at a tiny laptop screen for 8

    • by starless ( 60879 )

      Seriously, how is this any better than working at your kitchen table?

      If you're single, maybe slightly more chance of getting laid?

      ...a longhaired freelance astrophysicist, said that he had met two girlfriends (now exes), and his current roommate, via power-strip negotiations.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12... [nytimes.com]

      • ...a longhaired freelance astrophysicist, said that he had met two girlfriends (now exes), and his current roommate, via power-strip negotiations.

        Server room inspections are even more productive, provided you are into hairy sysadmins.

    • Seriously, how is this any better than working at your kitchen table?

      Fewer food scraps? Or maybe not.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re Seriously, how is this any better than working at your kitchen table?
      Staff will wonder past and hint about the fun that can be had with a 3d printer that is on special.
      Need different special pens for the comic, more special art paper? Like to try pencils or water colors? Coffee?
      A sheltered workshop for people with trust funds.
    • Seriously, how is this any better than working at your kitchen table?

      Just about anything is better than working at your kitchen table full time. I can work fine from home one or two days a week, and have a home lab/workshop set up just for that. But never seeing anyone day to day and having no real proper separation between work and home life sucks for most people.

      There is zero appeal for anybody with common sense.

      Common sense says it's worth spending 300 quid a month to stay sane. What lacks common sense

  • Went to Staples a few months ago. Staples brand 6 ft micro USB cable was $38.99. Even for being in a premium location (Chicago Loop), that's just bullshit. Co-working spaces won't solve the basic problem of Staples being (or having the perception of being) over-fucking-priced.
  • Anyone would think there was a shortage of talent. Funny, that's not what the unemployment figures claim. Or are businesses basically saying "fuck older people we don't want you, we only want young people" without actually saying this of course, because that would be illegal.
  • The only thing I ever brought from Staples was an Ergotron Neo-Flex monitor stand that I had to special order as the local stores didn't carry it and was less expensive than ordering through Amazon at the time (circa 2012).
  • First, I want a desk I can use every day, not some shared thing. Second, desk needs a lockable drawer so I can stuff my collection of MP3s in to it, whatever format they may be in. Third, I want a computer that I can install the software I find useful on itl, and can count on it will be in the same state monday morning as it was friday evening.

    You fail any of these, you just lost a good developer for whatever you thought you were saving money on. Keep in mind, these are my minimums. I'll take a lot o
    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      You obviously don't understand the concept of coworking [wikipedia.org].
    • First, I want a desk I can use every day, not some shared thing. Second, desk needs a lockable drawer so I can stuff my collection of MP3s in to it, whatever format they may be in.

      My previous co-working space had a dedicated desks with a lockable drawer. My current one, and one before that has non lockable drawers but provided lockers nearby.

      Third, I want a computer...

      That's your employer's problem, not your cow-orking space's problem.

  • There are times when I think it'd be nice to have a coworking space to use, but what Workbar is offering doesn't look like something I'd want unless it also had other things going for it such as available meeting & presentation rooms, a location that was convenient to places I was going to need to go, or good networking opportunities.

    Maybe I'm spoiled being in the suburbs, but I'm really not seeing the advantage this has over any of several local libraries or a Starbucks, and I could work in either of t
  • It never dawns on these idiots that nobody is going to be loyal to these American companies, when they are not loyal to Americans. Staples, like walmart and target, are just front-ends for china.

    Just like the rest of the developed nations, we need to put a vat on our goods, and esp. on parts/goods/services coming over the border.
  • If they've got 3D printers, I might well give them a spin. Same if they have color laser printers that can be rented exclusively (no sharing and worrying about other people seeing your porn^Wconfidential printouts). A light-duty CNC mill would also be an attraction.

    While they might have the color laser printers, I doubt they allow any one person or group to corner it like that, and I see no mention of the other two things I'd want to see. I can make coffee without their help, thank you very much.

    • If they've got 3D printers, I might well give them a spin. Same if they have color laser printers that can be rented exclusively (no sharing and worrying about other people seeing your porn^Wconfidential printouts). A light-duty CNC mill would also be an attraction.

      Sounds like you want more of a hackerspace/makerspace/fablab sort of place than a cow-working spaces. Those tend to be more like renting a desk in an office kind of deals. And speaking of your laser printer habit---someone recently got instabanne

    • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

      Sounds like you're looking for something like TechShop - http://techshop.ws/ [techshop.ws]

      • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

        It's not that I'm looking for this myself -- the Greater Los Angeles area is fairly well studded with maker spaces. But it would be wonderful to have something of that nature in every major city and a lot of smaller ones, with signage visible from every main highway. They could be the McDonald's of maker spaces and I'd still consider it a Good Thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If on the road and your only other choice is working from Starbucks, - overworked wifi, fight for power plug, high-glare seat, summertime loud as hell frapachino blenders even piercing noise cancelling headphones.

  • Why not incorporate living spaces into this concept, a kind of dorm?

    Basic living spaces, shared bathrooms, a cafeteria (with discounted prepaid meal plans) to go along with the shared office work spaces.

  • by zifn4b ( 1040588 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @07:34AM (#54201519)
    Honestly, I think companies themselves created the buzz around young people liking co-located spaces when in fact, it's the companies that prefer open, co-located spaces because it makes it a lot easier for them to observe you and make sure they get as close to 100% utilization out of you as possible. It has nothing to do with people thinking co-located "spaces" are cool. The Fortune 500 company I worked at that adopted them, it was very clear what their motivation was for moving to them. And as others have posted, it's very clear there is less productivity in co-located spaces as well.
    • Very nice and all, but it's got nothing to do with TFA. Cow-orking spaces are places you go to rent one or a small number of stations at which you can ork cows (i.e. desks). Your neighbour will likely be from a different company. The company you rent space from doesn't give a fig if you get high utilisation or low utilisation of your workers as long as you pay the rent and don't piss off the other customers.

      • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

        Very nice and all, but it's got nothing to do with TFA. Cow-orking spaces are places you go to rent one or a small number of stations at which you can ork cows (i.e. desks). Your neighbour will likely be from a different company. The company you rent space from doesn't give a fig if you get high utilisation or low utilisation of your workers as long as you pay the rent and don't piss off the other customers.

        My bad. We have one of those where I live. It's a scam to make money. Paid membership to be in some large incubator with no orchestration? The only reason I can think of why anyone would do that is the sense of feeling like you belong to some exclusive club like a prestigious golf club membership.

        • Office rental is a scam now? WTF?

          It's really simple, right? You want an office with office facilities but are only have a few people. So, you sub let space from someone. This ain't complicated.

          • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

            Office rental is a scam now? WTF?

            It's really simple, right? You want an office with office facilities but are only have a few people. So, you sub let space from someone. This ain't complicated.

            That's not the way it's pitched here. Some people do use these co-located incubator spaces for cheaper rent but it's an open space for all the companies. Cross pollination and collaboration is encouraged and that is the basis of the business model. It's also pitched for people who are interested getting into "the scene" whatever that means. That's the part that I find to just be a no value sales pitch.

            There is no evidence that I'm aware of that it helps grow businesses any better than anything else. Wh

  • If businesses want to improve productivity give me one of two things:

    Either

    an office with a door

    OR

    A VPN router, IP phone, and a laptop so I can work from home.

    A 20,000 Sq. Ft. Starbucks sounds like my idea of hell.

Of course you can't flap your arms and fly to the moon. After a while you'd run out of air to push against.

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