The pandemic normalized informal office setups and blurred the lines between home and office. It also opened up a third dimension where people can work and collaborate with other professionals outside their organizations.
While surveys here and there reveal that employees refuse to report back to their physical offices, it is also a known fact that after two years of offsite work, people have grown weary of working off their couches and kitchen benches.
The pandemic has created new work norms making the “third space” a standard work environment. Somewhere in between the home and the office the third space is an affordable and flexible adjunct to the hybrid work model.
A report by the Financial Times noted that Dan Cable, professor of organizational behavior at London Business School, sees how the third space concept “solves a bunch of problems.”
In the context of what he calls “new worker expectations” — where people want more flexibility around not just how, but where they work — the fact that third spaces are near our homes is key. “Ten minutes from your house, that’s a really important piece of this. We’re getting rid of an hour [commute] each way each day, 10 hours of wasted time.”
He adds that third spaces could be part of the long-term revolution in our ways of working. “It’s a specific, practical, affordable solution.”
Research suggests that working somewhere new helps boost motivation and productivity as it breaks the routine. Interestingly, the human brain responds better to novelty than to the familiar, so even a glitzy head office could potentially sap productivity if you spend too much time there.
Cable says that these third spaces offer fresh perspectives and opportunities for collaboration with other professionals. And if you need some quiet time there are nooks where you can work alone.