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Finding a Place in a “Third Place”

by Craig Roth  |  January 19, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

According to the World Economic Forum’s report The Future of Jobs “44% of global business and HR executives identify changing work environments and flexible working arrangements as the biggest demographic and socioeconomic driver of change across industries.”

What this means in less technical terms it that it’s getting a lot tougher to find an open table in a coffeeshop.  It’s a 45 min commute to get to my office and none of my coworkers are located there, so I usually work at home.  Unfortunately, I now have some construction going on at home. Well, “some” is an understatement when the contractor working 8 feet from my office reassures me “No worry. Is little jackhammer.”

In such cases I used to find a table at a “third place”.  And 5 years ago that was no problem – there was always a prime spot when I needed it.  A “prime” spot is a small table all to yourself, close to an electrical outlet.  A “subprime” spot is at a shared table or counter with enough space to spread out a bit and maybe a power outlet.  A “junky” spot is a shared counter where you have to say “can you please move your coat and bags” so you can cram into it and you’re working til your battery wears out.

I have found no prime spots this week and worked an hour in a junky spot with a talkative neighbor asking about my laptop and showing me his portfolio of medicinal marijuana stocks. My health club was no better.  In the past I’ve gotten the super-primo spot by the fireplace.  Now there were only junky spots.

So as a pundit on the technology and culture of knowledge work I’m thrilled to see how many jobs allow for alternative working environments.  Practically everyone at these spots has a laptop out or is conducting some sort of business meeting over coffee. But as a worker looking for a place to settle into for a few hours I can’t help but notice that the supply hasn’t kept up with the demand.

Well, at least I got a few good stock tips!

Category: information-work  

Craig Roth
Research VP, Tech and Service Providers
7 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Craig Roth is a Research Vice President focused on cloud office suites, collaboration tools, content management, and how they are being impacted by digital workplace and digital business trends...Read Full Bio




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