For years we have operated under the presumption that we have two main places that we occupy; home and office. Our lives are structured based on the places we spend most of our time. We have spent decades orienting our responsibilities around these places and attempting to perfect the “work/life balance”. However, the landscape of the contemporary office is beginning to change. The concept of the third place working environment.

In recent years a new place concept has arisen – the Third Place. The Third Place is where the home and office integrate. In the beginning, this concept focused on getting out of the office and finding an in-between environment, like a local coffee shop!

So what implications does this third place working environment have on our offices?

Well, in the early stages of adoption, people saw the Third Place as a means of escapism – a way to get out of the second place and get closer to the first place. As we became increasingly more digital in the way we work, this got easier as years passed.

Notable benefits were;

  • Increased Creativity – being office bound is not always conducive to the creative process. Getting up and going for a walk, or sitting outside immediately helps kick start our creative juices

  • Close and Cost Effective – Most workers select locations that are still close to the normal working environment, while also helping to remove some of the costs-per-head from the office premises (electricity, internet, space).

  • Positive Atmosphere – Coffee shops and parks naturally have a less stressful environment than a packed office.

What about now?

Major corporations across the world have seen the benefits of Third Places, and have created environments on-site that echo this philosophy. As a result, they are creating comfortable, coffee shop style areas to allow people to escape their desk. Some companies have started to engineer a more natural environment for their staff to use. Introducing plants, wall graphics, natural floor finishes and an abundance of natural light. As a result, their employees are benefiting.

These shifts in our perceived environment have knock-on benefits across the spectrum. Staff can use a variety of spaces to achieve maximum productivity and creativity. With people seeking a different way of working, desk positions have become less permanent and individual ownership is somewhat redundant. – Why not share a desk that you use 40% of the time, or even better, hot desk! Overall this reaps benefits for the company, as staff become more effective and begin to alleviate costs per head, as use of space becomes more diverse and more efficient.