Third option for working population

Last updated 11:24 14/11/2011

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"Third place" working is becoming commonplace in modern business.

That is the findings of a recent independent research report by ZZA Responsive User Environments and funded by global workplace provider Regus.

The study investigates the rising tide of work in "third places", that is, they are neither home nor office-based, and it scotches the myth that flexible working simply means working from home.

In fact, 52 per cent of "third place" workers internationally use business centres for some or all of their working time.

And 72 per cent of these third- place users spend three or more days a week in their favourite business centre or other third place, while 70 per cent of business centre users find them more productive environments compared to more informal locations.

Combining data from a 17,000-strong business survey with business people the world over, the survey shows that working in "third places" is the new normal.

These third places include business centres, clubs, libraries and informal areas such as cafes.

"This is a very important independent study that underlines just how commonplace third place working has become in modern business," says Regus Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia vice president William Willems.

"Commercially, we have seen an increasing trend, but the study shows how prevalent, motivating and productive third place working has become."

The report also reveals that third place working brings a wide range of benefits, including improved work-life balance, reduced stress and improved productivity for the employee, as well as cost-effectiveness, scalability and reduced property commitment for businesses.

"Today's dynamic technological, economic and social conditions create opportunities for individuals and pose new challenges for organisations," the report states. "Attracting and harnessing talent is a central challenge for business. Third place working that enhances the quality of work life supports this agenda."

Other key findings include:

* Most interviewees did not want to work at home. They wanted to work among other people who are working, motivated by the synergy and common purpose of other people working around them, with no distractions, benefitting from access to technology and facilities not available at home, and the freedom to focus on their work in a non-domestic, professional environment.

* Digital migrants (people who frequently use third spaces) come from all age groups - the research showed no correlation between third place usage and age.

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* Being able to work in a place close to home radically improves people's work-life balance, job satisfaction and productivity. Convenient location was cited by 73 per cent of respondents as the top benefit of third place working.

* Being close to home helps third space users to reduce stress, avoid time-wasting commutes, avoid congestion and reduce their carbon footprint.

* As homes are too diffusely spread for organisations to own space close to all of them, the productive strategy is to leverage professional third places on a supported and co-ordinated basis.

* For corporations, third place working reduces property commitments, allows flexible use of facilities on demand, yet maintains a highly professional business image.

- The Dominion Post

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