What exactly is the third space and could it help your small business?

Today's workers can plop down their laptops anywhere, including a so-called third space.

Today’s workers can plop down their laptops anywhere, including a so-called third space.

By Henry Brown

As technology changes and improves at an increasing pace year by year, so the workplace and all the workers in it need to adapt if they are to keep up with it and get the most out of all the advances.

One huge benefit of modern-day technology is that workers are less chained to their desks. They can decide to work from home for one or two days a week, or permanently, if their contract allows it. People collaborate internationally a lot more, so the regular nine-to-five day is changing and shifting, with workers communicating with colleagues in different time zones from their own sofas. Sometimes workers meet up with colleagues from regional offices at a halfway house.

So, there’s work, then there’s home, and now we have a third space.

What is the third space?

The third space is a place or a facility that lies somewhere between the office and the home environment. It’s somewhere for colleagues and clients to meet and work together – it’s informal, well-equipped and offers inspiration rather than the office grind or the slippers-on relaxation of home.

A third space can be a dedicated business hub in a thriving city, or a serviced office that a company uses on a pay-as-you-go basis. It could even be the quiet zone of a coffee shop, with free wi-fi and wireless charging.

It can even be within the company office itself. A lot of businesses are creating third spaces in overlooked parts of their premises. Comfortable seating, low lighting or mood lighting, as well as plug sockets and USB ports all combine to relax workers but keep them creative, keep them connected. If there’s no extra room in the company premises, then it might need to look options such as the serviced office space Brentford has to offer to set up that special zone.

Do businesses actually need third spaces?

There was a lot of skepticism about flexible working when it first became a thing, but after several years of loosening the leash, more than two-thirds of businesses say they see an increase in productivity and staff retention. Bosses realize that workers can have Eureka!” moments anywhere, not just in front of their office desks.

Employees themselves say they have a better work-life balance with flexible working, which allows them to work smarter and longer.

Third spaces aren’t all the same, either. They can be open plan, inviting places that encourage brainstorming, or they can be a softly lit alcove for personal reflection and deep-thinking.

Hiring a third space can be cheaper

With more and more employees working from home, at least part of the time, and more people job-sharing, how many desks does a business actually need? Many companies are paying for large leased offices that they’re not using fully, so an eventual downsize saves a lot of money year after year. For those times when the company does need all hands on deck, a short-term serviced third space will fill the gap perfectly without the long-term shackles.

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Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London; uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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