Img: Woodalls Design 
When you hear the word ‘office’, what springs to mind? It’s likely to be an image of a dull, large open-plan room with rows and rows of desks, wheeled chairs and computer screens and/or laptops. The desk-setup is the standard setting for getting work done productively, with a clear workspace with everything you need to do your job organised on top of it. The office chair is likely to be shaped to be ergonomic, with adjustable back, arm-rests and seat.

The trusty desk work-station never fails and has been the norm ever since the first offices came about, but modern designs are encouraging work and meetings away from the traditional desk with lounges furnished with plush sofas or bean-bags or café-type spots. These offer variation and freedom in or away from the office, with a relaxed work-space available.

The ‘Third Place’

Sociologist Ray Oldenburg introduced the concept of the ‘third place’ in 1989, which is now widely recognised and appreciated – put simply, the ‘third place’ is somewhere away from home and the office (they’re the first and second places). These are usually public environments, like cafes, libraries, and parks; social areas. These places are often where many like to take their laptop and work productively, away from the traditional office setting or distractions that may occur in the home.

While working in a public ‘third place’ brings variation and a refreshing setting to sit down with your coffee, notebook and laptop, it does bring downfalls. If in a café, you’ll likely be surrounded by members of the public who aren’t working and so the noise and atmosphere - which isn’t as focused as an office space would be - can be distracting and may damage productivity for some. This is why many offices are bringing the ‘third place’ concept into the office.

Incorporating the ‘Third Place’ into the Office

With office design advancing into much more than rows and rows of desks, the relaxed workspaces bring an element of the ‘third place’ principles – but better. When before you may have a screaming baby on the coffee table next to you, in an in-office café or sofa area setting, you’ll be surrounded by others working and so the distractions disappear. You’re left with a casual, relaxed, but focused work area.

Socialisation and Collaboration

As mentioned in our previous posts, communal office spaces promote collaboration between employees, where ideas may be shared and healthy work relationships may be built, likely resulting in a happy office with a rounded sense of community.

And so adding the relaxed lounges will add to this further, as another space to share thoughts and knowledge. The casual areas can make the office seem less like a formal, sit-up-straight workspace or meeting room; where meetings take place on sofas instead of a professional meeting room, the formality may decrease and the meeting may become more of a relaxed discussion where more may be achieved.

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Adding ‘third places’ into the office building can also be an opportunity to play with interior design. Simply incorporating the company’s associated colours into furniture is a way to keep the space cohesive and stick to the branding. Or you could go for the opposite, designing the area to be completely abstract as a contrast to the company brand, making it really feel like your favourite coffee-shop or internet café, away from work. 

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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