What is a “Third Space”?
The “third space” refers to the third place in which people perform work. The first being their home, second their work place and the third is typically a space outside of these areas where one can carry out a job function as well as meet and interact with other like-minded people. The perfect example of this is Starbucks, in fact they are renowned for being the go-to third space. Not necessarily for their coffee (although this always helps), but for their ambiance and the cosiness you feel, along with the essential amenities of course (WiFi & plug sockets). The main and most important characteristic of these spaces is that they provide a pleasant working environment away from the constraints of your desk.
So why should businesses introduce these third spaces to their offices? A recent study was carried out by Hubble London, where hundreds of employees who want to love where they work were surveyed, specifically on the features they most want to see in their office in 2018. They found that nearly 60% of respondents said break out spaces were indispensable and ranked it third most important after meeting rooms and super-fast WiFi. This is just one study of many that have found break out spaces or “third spaces” to be in high demand, and these findings shouldn’t go ignored.
It’s been proven that taking breaks can have a positive impact on an employee’s overall productivity. By providing staff with unique areas to rest in comfortable surroundings will help to encourage breaks and in hand improve their overall productivity. This concept was explored and proven by Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor company, to be a more effective way of working. He trialed this when he enforced break periods on his employees and managed to see a significant increase in their productivity. More time spent working, does not equate to more work being produced, this is an out-dated concept and often isn’t the case.
A change in scenery alone can really help with sparking new ideas and creative concepts. Third spaces are ideal for escaping a busy office when you need time to think clearly or alternatively they can be used for collaborating and bouncing ideas between colleagues. Each office will differ in terms of their requirements but having access to a collaborative space will benefit vast majority of workspaces.
We have many collaborative spaces here at Iconic Offices, one of which is the ‘Hack It’ room. This space is painted head to toe with smart wall paint, meaning we can draw / write / brainstorm on it with whiteboard markers and then wash it clean after. This is one of our favourite areas for brainstorming and strategising as you can let your creativity flow. It’s also filled with bean bag chairs, bright colours and tall windows which all help to inspire a more productive and creative atmosphere.
Incorporating a Third Space Into Your Office
Increasing both the productivity and creativity within an office is something every manager strives for, so it really is a no-brainer to incorporate this concept of third spaces into every workspace. The goal is to have employees view their workplace in a positive light, a place where they want to spend time and won’t be heading out to find the nearest Starbucks. However, not every company is the same and the needs of staff will differ from one business to the next, so it is important that this is factored in.
Productive Third Spaces
This would be a space primarily used for focused work where employees can get through some of their most pressing work away from any distractions. For instance, these areas could have private booths for making phone calls or individual desks or areas to just plug in, get the headphones on and go. Think quirky furnishing and all the essential amenities.
Collaborative Third Spaces
This space is all about working together. In order to brainstorm, it’s important that there is plenty of areas to get ideas up on the wall, whether it’s by supplying white boards, smart wall paint or good aul flip charts, these are essential. Think meeting room style or a number of smaller collaborative areas within the one space. This isn’t a quiet area, you want people to feel comfortable in voicing opinions and bringing new ideas to the table so it should be fun in design helping to set the tone.
Social Third Spaces
This refers back to what we mentioned earlier, it is important that employees take breaks, the brain is a muscle and if over used it becomes exhausted. A social space enables and encourages employees to relax and reset. This could be anything from a kitted out kitchen area with tunes playing, a games room with table tennis and pool tables, an inhouse café or even your very own library room for complete zen. What you want is a work-free zone that will really add to an employees’ experience and happiness at work, it becomes less of a place of dread and more of a ‘home from home’.
Whether your office introduces a social, collaborative or productivity space, it’s clear that these are vital to the overall office design. Some offices will have a combination of all three, whereas smaller companies may only require one. Either way, it’s a step in the right direction towards a more modern day workplace.