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Is T3P the Place to Be?
By Jeff Warner, Sales Director of Americas @ UltraSoft.Tech   Published on April 03, 2024

Let’s talk about “Work-From-Home”, “Return-To-Office”
and the less often discussed “Third Place” Concept

What do the terms “Work-From-Home”, “Return-To-Office”, and “The Third Place” mean?

Work-From-Home, or “WFH”, refers to the growing trend of knowledge workers and a lot of workers who traditionally had previously worked in a traditional office even before it became necessary during COVID-19. Working from home turned out to be a lot more effective than anyone had imagined, producing a lingering desire by many workers to remain in a WFH status.

Return-To-Office, more commonly known as “RTO”, is the shorthand for companies, executives, and managers demanding that all, or most, remote workers return to an in-office desk on a full-time basis.

The Third Place, which I am referring to here as “T3P”, was first introduced by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his 1999 book "The Great Good Place" in which he loosely defined it as “a location that is neither home nor work, but somewhere in between.” He contrasted The Third Place with the First Place (home) and the Second Place (office). Essentially, he created a generic term for a variety of settings in which people gather to work, connect with others, socialize, and build a community of like-minded individuals. T3P’s can include places such as local coffee shops (Starbucks), libraries (quiet space), parks (outdoor living), and community centers (proximity). These are just a few examples of the many different types of third places that exist. The Third Place can be any location that provides a space for people to work, relax, socialize, and/or connect with others.


The Case for Coworking Spaces as T3P

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of people working from home or in shared workspaces, known as coworking. As the world of work continues to evolve, The Third Place concept is becoming increasingly important. Coworking spaces, RTO, and WFH are all part of the larger trend towards creating more flexible and adaptable work arrangements.

Additionally, the rise of coworking is partially being driven by the shift to remote work. Coworking spaces have become increasingly popular as more and more people are seeking out alternative work arrangements. These environments offer remote workers many benefits including flexibility, affordability, and community. As the WFH trend continues, people in general are looking for places to go outside of their home to work. The Third Place concept, particularly in the form of a coworking membership, can help to create a more productive, healthy, and creative work environment for all.

In the context of RTO and WFH, T3P can offer a middle ground that provides workers with a space to work outside of their home, but it can also offer the social interaction and collaboration that is often lacking in a traditional office setting. This can be a helpful option for workers who are not ready to return to the office full-time, but who also miss the social aspects of working in a traditional office setting.


How Coworking as T3P Benefits Remote Knowledge Workers

•    Workspace: The primary and most obvious utility of a coworking space is to provide access to high-quality workspace that is functional as well as impressive to visitors. Of course, free coffee and fast Wi-Fi are a must - while other amenities such as reception, private offices, conference rooms, professional grade printers, and a fully stocked kitchen are generally included as well.

•   Community: Coworking spaces provide a sense of community and belonging for workers. This can be beneficial for people who are working remotely or who do not have a lot of social interaction at their traditional office.

•   Collaboration: Coworking spaces can provide the opportunity to network and collaborate with other professionals. This can be helpful for people who are working on projects that require teamwork or who are looking for new business opportunities.

•   Flexibility: Coworking spaces offer a flexible work environment where people can rent a desk by the hour, day, or month. Most operators will provide a free pass for one day of open desk coworking so you can try it out before joining. Many spaces also offer promotional “free coworking days”, that can be used. This flexibility allows one to have the freedom to work from anywhere, including a coworking space where they can be surrounded by other professionals who may be working on similar projects. It also allows users to try out different spaces before making a commitment to a specific coworking community.

•   Affordability: There are a few factors that can help to keep costs down for individual users, including: flexible membership options, shared amenities and, often, discounts for students and freelancers: All of this allows members to choose a plan that fits their budget and needs while also helping to keep costs down for businesses and individual users.

If you’re a knowledge worker working at home, consider complementing your officing solution with a coworking plan as it may be an excellent way to stay in touch with the corporate office while working from home and also providing the opportunity to work from an office as needed.

How Coworking as T3P Benefits Digital Nomads

Digital nomads are people who work remotely and travel frequently. They often find it difficult to stay connected with others while they’re on the go. However, coworking can provide a solution. Coworking spaces are located all over the world, so digital nomads can generally find a place to work when they’re traveling. They also provide a great opportunity to meet other digital nomads and learn about their experiences.

If you’re a digital nomad, consider joining a coworking space, as it could be the perfect way to stay connected and productive while you travel.

How Coworking as T3P Benefits Startups

A coworking space membership can be a great option for startups for a few specific reasons, including cost, flexibility, and access to support and collaboration. Startups are often made up of a team of induvial entrepreneurs. WFH often does not work well in these situations. However, coworking and flex spaces can be a great option for startups that are looking for a cost-effective, flexible, and supportive workspace.

If you’re a startup, especially with 2 or more founders, consider coworking or flexspace, but be sure to do your research and find a space that meets your team’s specific needs - then it could be the best decision you ever make.


How Coworking as T3P Can Benefit the Employer

The Third Place can be a valuable resource for businesses if they recognize it as so and utilize it appropriately. By providing a space for employees to connect and collaborate, businesses can foster a more productive and engaged workforce. 

This can also be a valuable recruiting tool for businesses. In a recent Time article from July 18, 2023, Alana Samuels points out that according to the Flex Report released on July 19th, “in the last year, companies - regardless of their size - that are fully flexible added jobs at more than twice the rate of companies that were full-time in office.” Fully Flexible means allowing employees to work when and where they want, whether that is in the office, at home, or at a third place that provides them with more than WFH, while avoiding the most undesirable aspects of the corporate office.

Companies that champion remote work, WFH, and the use of third places can and should offer a small financial allowance to employees which they can apply to a coworking membership or other T3P costs. At an expense of $200 or less per month, it’s a relatively small, investment to make in the worker that you are already paying $65k+ per year.


“It seems pretty clear that the companies that are full time in-office are having a harder time attracting talent than the companies that offer some level of flexibility,” says Rob Sadow, CEO and co-founder of Scoop, the technology company that publishes The Flex Report.

Some workers will be excited about the idea of a T3P and how it can increase productivity. Others won’t have a need maybe because they have a great setup at home that is ergonomically designed and free of distractions. Third places mitigate many of the WFH distractions, but more importantly, it gives power and autonomy to the worker to make their own decision about how and where they are most productive. 

By providing a space for employees to connect and collaborate, businesses can foster a more productive and engaged workforce. Shorter commutes equate to higher productivity and a happier workforce. T3P’s can also help to attract and retain top talent.

How Coworking as T3P Can Help Combat the Loneliness Epidemic

In addition to providing a sense of community, coworking can also help to combat the loneliness epidemic.  This article from veywellmind defines loneliness as “a universal human emotion that is both complex and unique to each individual. Because it has no single common cause, preventing and treating this potentially damaging state of mind can vary dramatically.”

The author also suggests that loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health. Some of the health risks associated with loneliness include:

•   Depression and suicide

•   Alcohol and drug misuse

•   Altered brain function

•   Poor decision-making

•   Alzheimer's disease progression

•   Cardiovascular disease and stroke

•   Decreased memory and learning

•   Increased stress levels

“Millions of people in America are struggling in the shadows, and that’s not right,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy tells Amanda Seitz of the Associated Press. “We now know that loneliness is a common feeling that many people experience. It’s like hunger or thirst. It’s a feeling the body sends us when something we need for survival is missing.”

However, coworking can help to reduce loneliness by providing people with opportunities to connect with others. One study found that people who worked in coworking spaces were more likely to report feeling connected to their colleagues than people who worked in traditional offices. Another study found that coworking space members were more likely to report feeling socially connected than people who worked from home. These studies suggest that joining a coworking space can be an effective way to combat loneliness.

If you are feeling lonely working from home, consider working in a coworking space - you may be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.

What Does this Mean for the Future-of-Work?

Coworking spaces can provide this essential third place, helping to create a more balanced and fulfilling work life. In the context of RTO and WFH, T3P can offer a number of advantages. It can also offer a place to collaborate with colleagues or to take a break from the WFH environment. For employees who are working from home, T3P can provide a change of scenery and a place to meet with clients or colleagues.

According to Gartner, 51% of knowledge workers worldwide were expected to be working remotely, up from 27% in 2019. In the US, 51% of knowledge workers were expected to work hybrid, and 20% were expected to be fully remote. By 2030, up to 37% of Americans are expected to WFH, while 74% of companies are planning to implement the hybrid work model.

As the world of work continues to evolve, the concept of T3P is becoming increasingly important. With more and more people working remotely or in a hybrid work environment, there is a growing demand for spaces where people can work, build community. collaborate, and socialize outside of their home or traditional office. Coworking spaces fill this niche, and they are becoming an increasingly popular option for workers who are looking for a flexible, collaborative, and community-oriented work environment.

Overall, The Third Place is an important concept that can benefit both employees and businesses. As the future of work reveals itself to us, The Third Place is likely to become even more important. I’d expect the use of coworking and other third places to dominate the future of workspace.


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