Great Coffee & Wifi – Why the third space trend is here to stay
The ‘third space’ isn’t a new concept, but is one that has been pushed into the spotlight in recent years. The home is the ‘first space’, our workplace is the ‘second space’ and the ‘third space’ refers to an additional (or third) space where people can perform work-related tasks. The third space is often seen as an in-between space, with the comfort and informal atmosphere of the home (the first space), but also with the necessities for working. But why have they been increasing in popularity? And how can you get the most out of a third space in your workplace?
Coffee shops are the best examples of third spaces, and they’ve been used for years as a space for people to meet outside of work. Not only do they offer a good cup of coffee, they’re often a warm and welcoming space, with comfy chairs and speedy WiFi. In recent years, the idea of the third space is also finding momentum in the workplace. The younger workforce (click here to find out how to design your space for the next generation of employees) demands more creativity and flexibility than previous generations, and third spaces are being used to help attract and retain talent as they can help improve productivity, employee engagement and overall job satisfaction.
Research shows that employees feel most productive at their desks, but contrary to what you might think, often they aren’t overly inspired there. Similarly, it is often thought that open office plans can help increase productivity and collaboration amongst employees, however this type of space can create distractions and can hinder the productivity of more introverted team members. Coupled with the fact that the younger generations of employees are increasingly looking for a change from the traditional office space, the third space came into being. Companies have started to favour an agile-working method, opting for portable laptops rather than desktop computers, and encouraging employees to move throughout the office to work where they feel most productive for the task they’re working on, rather than being chained to their desk. The third space allows employees to escape the monotony of their desks, but still work in an appropriate environment, with quick wifi, good coffee, and the ability to collaborate with and chat to colleagues in a more relaxed environment.
But third spaces are not all created equal. Creating the right workplace environment is crucial in attracting the best talent, and this applies to any third spaces as well. Above all, it’s important that the space embraces your company culture, so it’s vital to work with the right designers and fit-out companies to make sure the space works for you and your team. Whether your focus is on a collaborative space with big tables perfect for meetings, an individual space with single desks and the space to make phone calls, or a more entertainment-focussed space where your team can relax, chat and decompress, without the right design it simply won’t have the same impact.
What do you want from your Third Space?
Before designing and furnishing the area, decide the role you want your third space to take. Will it be somewhere for your team to relax and catch up over a coffee? If so, opt for comfortable sofas and armchairs. Will it function as an informal meeting area, with big tables for teams to gather around? Do you want it to be more focussed to the individual, perhaps with small booths or individual desks where employees can get their head down and get work done? This decision will have a huge impact on the furniture and design in the space. Above all, it must be an inviting space that your team want to work in, so consider consulting them on what would actually add value.
WiFi is Vital
It goes without saying that super-quick WiFi is vital in making a third space a functioning and effective space. In order to work efficiently, employees need the ability to connect, either through high-speed WiFi or wired internet ports. This is often overlooked and as a result, some firms find their third space goes unused. We live in a connected world and many of us rely on technology for every aspect of our job, so connectivity throughout the whole workplace is crucial.
Get the Atmosphere Right
The overall atmosphere of your third space will impact how much it is used, and ultimately will determine whether it was a worthwhile investment, so it’s important that the space is well designed and thoroughly thought out. Don’t overlook the basics, such as lighting and acoustics.
The recent rise of biophilic design in the workplace has stemmed from increased understanding of how the physical environment can impact our physical and mental wellbeing. Your employees’ wellbeing is of paramount importance, and numerous studies have shown that increased wellbeing leads to increased productivity, higher output and higher retention rates, and a space with lots of natural light can help with this. Similarly, consider where the third space is located. A collaborative space meant for discussion and conversation will not be well received if placed next to an area meant for silent work or taking important phone calls. According to the Leesman Index, only 30% of office workers are happy with the noise levels in their workplace, so be sure to bear this in mind when creating your third space.
Encourage Coffee Culture
Investing in a high-quality coffee machine will have a massive impact on your third space. According to the 2017 Leesman Index, 82% of respondents agreed that tea, coffee and refreshment facilities were a highly important factor in their physical environment. Today’s consumer has a deep understanding of the coffee they drink, which has led to the expectation of the average consumer growing significantly. Premium coffee is no longer concentrated in coffee shops, consumers expect a barista-quality beverage wherever they go, including the office. As well as the health benefits of coffee, a well-placed premium coffee machine, such as TopBrewer, can act as an anchor point in your third space, encouraging your team to collaborate, share ideas and solve problems over a cup of specialty coffee.