“Third Place” gains pace

A new independent research report from ZZA Responsive User Environments has scotched the myth that flexible working means home-working. The report, which combines data from a global 17,000-strong business survey with in-depth qualitative interviews with business people across the world, demonstrates that working in ‘third places’ – neither office nor home – is the new normal. These ‘third places’ encompass business centres, clubs, libraries and informal areas such as coffee shops. Moreover, the report also reveals that ‘third place’ working brings a wide range of benefits, including improved work-life balance, reduced stress and improved productivity for the employee, as well as cost-effectiveness, scalability and reduced property commitment for businesses.

Authored by Professor Ziona Strelitz, the report notes that, “Today’s dynamic technological, economic and social conditions create opportunities for individuals and pose new challenges for organisations. Attracting and harnessing talent is a central challenge for business. Third place working that enhances the quality of work life supports this agenda.”

The research was supported via a research grant, by Regus the global workplace provider.

Mark Dixon, CEO comments, “This is a very important independent study that underlines just how commonplace third place working has become in modern business. Commercially, we have seen an increasing trend, but the study shows how prevalent, motivating and productive third place working has become.”

Key findings from the report include:-

· 52% of third place workers globally use business centres for some or all of their working time

· 72% of these third place users spend 3+ days a week in their favourite business centre or other third place, and 70% of business centre users find them more productive environments compared to more informal locations

· By far the majority of interviewees did not want to work at home. They wanted to work amongst other people who are working, motivated by the synergy and common purpose of other people working around them, with no distractions, benefitting from access to technology and facilities not avaialble at home, and the freedom to focus on their work in a non-domestic, professional environment

· Digital migrants – people who frequently use third spaces – come from all age groups; the research showed no correlation between third place usage and age

· Being able to work in a place close to home radically improves people’s work-life balance, job satisfaction and productivity. Convenient location was cited by 73% of respondents as the top benefit of third place working.

· Being close to home helps third space users to reduce stress, avoid time-wasting commutes, avoid congestion and reduce their carbon footprint

· As homes are too diffusely spread for organisations to own space close to all of them, the productive strategy is to leverage professional third places on a supported and coordinated basis

· For corporations, third place working reduces property commitments, allows flexible use of facilities on demand, yet maintains a highly professional business image

A copy of the report from ZZA User Responsive Environments, Why place still matter in the digital age; third place working in easy reach of home, August 2011, can be downloaded from The report provides invaluable checklists for individuals or organisations considering the benefits of third place working with guidance on the type of third place that aligns with the profile of their activity.