Does a co-working concept make sense for Starbucks’ business?
Starbucks was a pioneer in establishing itself as a place that remote employees visit to set up shop and spend the day working. Now, the coffee chain is opening a store concept in Japan that is even more geared towards the work-from-home set with a whole floor’s worth of work-related amenities, making it as much a co-working space as a coffee shop.
The top floor of the Starbucks in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood features private video conferencing booths, semi-private booths available for customers to book in 40-minute increments, tables bookable for small group discussions and a solo workspace called the ThinkLab that can be reserved in 15-minute intervals via an app, according to a Fast Company article. The bottom floor of the location operates as a standard Starbucks. The company does not currently have plans to expand the model elsewhere in Japan or into the U.S.
There may, however, be a need for a new kind of working space in the U.S. The nation continues to struggle with the novel coronavirus pandemic (making shared indoor workspaces potentially dangerous), leading to the rapid expansion of the number of people working from home. This could mean an eventual post-pandemic demand for more business-focused spaces in coffee shops and other places frequented by work-from-homers.
Before the novel coronavirus pandemic, co-working spaces were appearing nationwide to meet the needs of an already growing remote workforce, consisting of both employees working from home and startups with little or no traditional office space.
Chains such as Office Depot and Staples had begun to get in on the act with new concepts that moved away from traditional office supply stores and into spaces where entrepreneurial customers could come to collaborate and utilize technology services.
The biggest story of the early co-working boom, though, was WeWork. The rise and fall of the chain of subscription-based co-working spaces called into question the viability of the model. The company’s 2019 attempt to go public led to investor scrutiny of its business fundamentals, resulting in the failure of its initial public offering, the stepping down of its CEO and massive staff layoffs, Business Insider reports.
- Private phone booths and coffee aplenty: This new Starbucks looks an awful lot like WeWork – Fast Company
- Will Staples’ new concept connect with small business owners? – RetailWire
- Will AT&T give Starbucks competition as the new ‘third place’ for people to hang out? – RetailWire
- The WeWork fiasco of 2019, explained in 30 seconds – Business Insider
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a business opportunity for Starbucks to develop co-working spaces as part of its U.S. coffee shops? What pricing structure (subscriptions, per hour) and amenities would it need to offer to monetize the co-working opportunity here?