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Tesco to pilot in-store flexible working spaces

Areas formerly used for electrical goods could be used for meetings and co-working

A view of the front of a Tesco Extra store with cars parked in front

Remote workers might soon be able to do their jobs and shop for groceries at the same time, under a new "Spaces" project between Tesco and flexible office operator IWG.

A trial at a branch of Tesco in New Malden that will start later in this month and will accommodate 12 private desks, 30 co-working spaces and a meeting room.

The 3,800 sq ft space within the store would normally have been used for electrical goods, music, and other forms of entertainment, most of which are now mainly purchased online. The aim is to make better use of floor space and, if successful, Tesco stores across the country could become hybrid working hubs.

"We are pleased to be working with IWG to offer customers the chance to work more flexibly from their local Tesco," said Louise Goodland, head of strategic partnerships at Tesco. "We are always looking to serve our customers and communities better and we will be interested to see how they respond to this new opportunity."

The partnership for co-working spaces reflects new attitudes to employment as a result of the pandemic. Work areas are popping up in more unusual areas, and businesses are also seeking to reduce their own office footprint, as employees look to find office-like environments that are closer to home. Around 72% of workers would prefer the ability to work flexibly rather than returning to five days a week in the office, according to IWG's own research.

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"People don't want to spend hours commuting every day and instead want to live and work in their local communities," Mark Dixon, the founder and chief executive of IWG, said. "A Tesco Extra in a suburban location, in the middle of a vibrant local community, is the perfect location for flexible office space.

"New locations in suburban areas will transform communities and are a response to the growing demand we are seeing from customers who want to live and work locally."

By 2030, up to 30% of the UK's office market could be made up of flexible space, according to property advisory company JLL. It is currently less than 10%.

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