The third space - not work, not home

Like many professionals spending time out of the office means finding places to be productive in between work with clients or when in transit. We all carry our tools of trade around - laptop, chargers, mobile phone are the basics - and then look for somewhere to sit.

'The third space' is a concept named by Ray Oldenburg in his book 'The Great Good Place'. His original concept included locations like the hairdressers, civic square and the coffee shop. Oldenburg gave 8 characteristics of the third place, the idea of it being a home away from home gives a good sense of what Oldenburg felt we want functionally from the spaces we find the fill the gaps in our 'out of the office' days. The ideal third place for the mobile worker is not just a seat near a powerpoint and a decent coffee though. To work well, the third space needs a few of the other ingredients which Oldenburg wrote about.

The main one is conversation. A good third place allows adds some creature comfort to the working day, but also allows us to reconnect with other people, at least as far as we want to.

Designers are including the idea of the third place into activity based work, a concept which is taking off in office design at the moment.

Which means if you are interested in how people work, knowing more about this idea of the third space might just be a good thing!