I'll avoid going too far back in time and begin this story at the office. The office has continued to serve its purpose since the 16th century, but in recent times, as computers have become more portable, those working solely from a computer have begun working from all sorts of places: coffee shops, hotels, and even home, and in 2020, anyone who could work home, pretty much had to.
Not everyone's home was great for work, but since 2020 more people have seen the benefits of working away from the office, either permanently or a few days per week – dubbed "hybrid working" – saying that it can help their work/life balance or improve productivity.
There has been plenty of research to back up those claims, with some companies like Airbnb announcing that almost all staff will be allowed to work from wherever they want, forever.
With the desire to get out of the office increasing, but home working still not the ideal environment for most, more people have started to seek out alternative workspaces. Third workspaces.
The History of Third Workspaces
When Starbucks opened up shop in 1971 and became a place for people to not just hang out but also work, it was one of the first ever third workspaces and boasted at least one amenity that some offices could only dream of: half-decent coffee.
Many businesses have sprung up to serve the growing demand, also accounting for the growing variety of people who use third workspaces for different purposes. Some want to get away from the distraction of working at home and need a space that allows them to focus on work uninterrupted, while others are looking for a place where they can easily connect with other like-minded people.
How do third workspaces work?
There are spaces where you pay a membership fee and have access to a full day of office amenities, and others that have a more pay-per-use model, like renting a desk or workspace by the hour when you need it. But, there are also services like Hubble and Reef, for which you pay a membership and get access to dozens of spaces all over the world.
How do they compare to co-working spaces?
Co-working spaces like WeWork are designed for longer-term use by both freelancers and companies, and they don't usually sell hourly passes. Co-working spaces are more like a shared office block, whereas third workspaces can also be shared with the public or non-working customers.
Are third workspaces the next big thing?
Third workspaces aren’t just the next big thing – they’re already here. The future of work is about giving employees the flexibility to let them do their best work wherever they are. The more flexibility employers provide, the happier and more engaged their workforce will be!