There have been a lot of studies done on the value of “third spaces” — places other than home or work where one can go and feel at ease. Many clients ask about the role that third spaces should play in their work environment, and while the answers may vary, each third space should create places to meet, relax, focus and get work done. Now that technology has freed us up to work anywhere, these highly productive third spaces have become as critical as primary and secondary work areas. Just ask the newest generation of workers who have taken full advantage of the opportunity to explore new work areas and work styles throughout the day. When properly equipped and located, third spaces promote movement, invite interaction and keep work flowing throughout a facility.
Untethering Workers. Unleashing Productivity.
To maintain productivity away from the workstation, people need a variety of spaces that allow them to focus privately, interact with colleagues and power up to stay connected.To truly promote freedom of choice and inspire productivity, organizations must encourage employees to take the time needed to get away from the workstation to recharge and reset, as well as provide the variety of settings needed to support it.
More than ever, businesses are adopting workplace strategies that focus on activity-based planning concepts to better support employees’ varied work styles. Balancing collaboration-oriented areas with more private environments that cater to focused work can ensure that both quiet and buzzing workspaces are available.
Activity-based workplace solutions not only provide employees with the appropriate spaces in which to accomplish their tasks, but can also stimulate creativity and motivate them to work harder. These third spaces were once approached as purely social areas, but even cafés and lounges are now embraced as legitimate places to both work and interact.
Making Third Spaces A First Priority
While every third space is unique, there are characteristics that are shared by all. Comfort is mandatory, because many people seek third spaces as a more casual alternative to their task chair and desk. Versatility is also crucial, because it gives everyone the ability to quickly move and rearrange the furniture to support different needs and various group sizes. Lastly, if you can create areas within your work environment that feel like outside spaces, such as a cafés and lounges, it entices workers to stay in the office rather than host meetings in popular off-site locations.
“You can’t ask people to think and behave differently — then send them back to their desk. That approach doesn’t support creativity and growth. As leaders, we need to continually evaluate how work gets done and align the physical environment to support it.”
- Chad Zeck
HON Product Business Manager