The Brilliance of Workbar at Staples

When I first learned that Staples and Workbar were teaming up to launch Workbar locations within the Staples stores in Brighton, Danvers, and Norwood, I had two immediate thoughts. On the one hand, I was like, HELLO BRILLIANT, because I am always looking for ways to be efficient and combine stops. On the other hand, I had a hard time envisioning a Workbar within Staples -- perhaps because I’m not particularly visionary when it comes to interiors and architecture. I imagined work stations plopped amidst the office furniture section.

Well, it’s so not that. It’s actually kind of mindblowingly awesome.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to get a tour of the Brighton Workbar at Staples from Staples VP of Retail Merchandising Brian Coupland and Workbar Founder/CEO Bill Jacobson. I can’t imagine Staples needs an introduction but basically, it’s the office supply chain where I (and bajillions of other people) get office and school supplies. Workbar is a network of stylish productivity workspaces currently serving about 1500 members in and around Boston. Look how pretty the Brighton Workbar at Staples is! (Also, I was only 99.2% wrong...the office furniture section is next to Workbar. Ha.)

As an independent business owner of 10 years I had so many thoughts rolling around in my head during the tour, and I will have more thoughts to share about work and productivity and mamapreneurhood over the next month or two. But first, I wanted to to share my thoughts on why Workbar at Staples is simply brilliant for independent professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners.

1. Bidirectional benefits of two productivity-obsessed brands

Staples and Workbar are obsessed with productivity. This means that an incredible amount of thought has gone into the design and technical execution of the Workbar at Staples locations, whether it’s the high-end technology in the conference rooms, white noise units integrated throughout the whole space (I didn’t notice the units until they pointed them out!), or a variety of workspace options designed to suit different work preferences (e.g., regular seating, high tables, private rooms, phone rooms) and purposes (there are rooms specifically outfitted tech- and layout-wise to suit ideation, interviews, connection, and creation).

2. Event possibilities

If you know Workbar, you know they host regular events for their members, but what I didn’t know was that members can host their own events there. This is pretty major because whenever I have planned events, among the biggest challenges are: 1) finding a cool space that doesn’t require a lot of work to set up and also has tech options built in, and 2) the frequent Staples runs to grab supplies, copy programs, send mailers, order and pick up signage, etc. The idea that you could make both of those things happen right at a Workbar at Staples made the event planner in me nerd out in a big way!

3. A legit business mailing address + mail services

So this may sound like a minor thing, but I think about mailing addresses for independent business owners a lot. I don’t want my home address as my work address, especially because I need to hinge a mailing address to the many web domains I own (and OMG THE SPAM) and also because I send out a newsletter regularly to thousands of people, which requires a mailing address in the footer. (Obviously, I don’t want to send my home address shipped out to thousands of people on a regular basis!) Enter Workbar, where you can set up a mailing address. And if you set up shop at one of the Workbar at Staples locations, you can take care of your outgoing mailing needs too. BRILLIANT.

4. Parking matters

It’s not a trivial benefit that the Workbar at Staples locations mean you can park in a lot without worrying about finding a parking space and feeding a meter (or worrying about whether your client or business associates or event guests can find a parking space and feed a meter). Seriously, you probably will save 30-60 minutes in your work day by not needing to circle for parking or feed the meter!

5. You can sit with (and be inspired by) entrepreneurial history

So this idea is for those who -- like me -- appreciate symbolism and history. As a Boston lifer, I thought it was pretty cool that two companies rooted in the Boston area have partnered so innovatively. In fact, the Brighton location is Staples #1 (as in, the very first location!) so it seems very fitting that one of the first Workbar at Staples locations is at this store. Also, in Brighton there is a very cool wall installation of open books overlaid with a picture of Staples founder and industry pioneer Tom Stemberg. See that red book in the installation? That’s Stemberg’s original 1985 Staples business plan to eventually open 40 locations (uh, now there are over 1200 stores...GOOD JOB!). Amazing. Go on and be inspired by entrepreneurial history!

So if you’re interested in running your business with a pretty epic level of amenities and convenience, I highly recommend you check out Workbar at Staples. Locations currently include Brighton, Danvers, and Norwood. It is awesome. You should check it out.

Disclosure: This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Staples. All thoughts about the Workbar at Staples model plus the massive convenience that is not needing to circle for parking are, of course, my own.