Spacent team · Oct 19th 2023
The Third Place in hybrid work: Your employees want more than just home and office
In today’s ever-evolving work landscape, there’s been a significant shift in how businesses approach their office space. While the discourse often revolves around the binary options of ‘office-centric’ vs. ‘remote work’, there is a third, often overlooked, space that has the potential to revolutionize how we view the hybrid work model – the Third Place.
The Guardian recently reported on a survey which highlighted that many large international firms are planning to reduce their office spaces. Surprisingly, while bigger companies are downsizing, smaller ones plan to expand their global office spaces. Most businesses are gravitating towards a hybrid model, but with such models come complexities. Many companies decide to cut on fixed office space due to low utilisation. Then why offer remote workspaces for employees if we can save on those costs too? Offering more options for employees is an investment for the future in terms of productivity, and commitment. Also when transitioning towards a workspace solution with more flexibility with on-demand third places, companies are creating more cost-efficient solutions in the future. Flexible workspace services enable more scalable growth in terms of office spaces, when companies are looking to grow without growing real estate footprint.
So, what is the “Third Place”?
Popularized by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in the late 1980s, the “Third Place” refers to spaces that aren’t our homes (‘first place’) or our offices (‘second place’). These are community spaces where we interact, collaborate, and recharge – think coffee shops, libraries, co-working spaces, and the like.
Spacent User Survey – why the Third Place matters in hybrid work
- Flexibility and Choice: In our recent user survey, flexibility and the freedom to choose a suitable workspace from multiple workspace options emerged as the highest-valued benefit of our service. The users highlighted the importance of choosing the best space for them – whether the requirements are based on location, one’s mood or the day’s itinerary – which in turn helps boost productivity and work satisfaction.
- Convenience: Often users highlight the benefit of spaces that are better located for them than their own offices. In fact, third places near where people live are one of the most popular types of locations in our network. A conveniently located third place can save commuting time, helping employees strike a better work-life balance.
- Efficiency and Transition: While staying in one’s home would arguably save the most time from commuting, being stuck in one space can often hinder creativity. A third location can offer a refreshing change of scenery while also saving time. However, some users also comment on how transitioning between places during the day also makes work smoother and more efficient.
- Inspiration and Networking: Different environments inspire new thoughts and ideas. Not to mention, third places can often serve as great networking hubs, where professionals from different fields can connect organically.
- Refreshing Interactions: Third places can also act as great spots for the company’s team meetings. Users highlight that meeting their colleagues in new and different places is refreshing – not to mention the new ideas that the team can come up with together in an inspiring space.
- Adapting to Modern Work Challenges: With a majority of businesses transitioning to a hybrid work model, third places can provide a solution to the challenges of workspace obsolescence, as highlighted by Tim Armstrong from Knight Frank.
While businesses plan their future in a post-pandemic world, the idea of third places needs to be integrated into these plans. Not only can these spaces save costs for businesses, but they can also offer employees a more holistic work environment. This model could be a true representation of the hybrid work setting that the world is steadily moving towards.
In conclusion, the binary of home vs. office might be an oversimplification of the modern work experience. The third place bridges the gap, providing employees with the flexibility, convenience, and change of scenery they often crave, thereby potentially increasing productivity and job satisfaction.