Third place best, new work culture:Survey

Mumbai: Working at a `third place`, space in between home and office, is becoming popular and has its own distinct advantages, a survey says. The survey, which underlines just how commonplace third place working has become in modern business, also says that being able to work in a place close to home radically improves people`s work-life balance, job satisfaction and productivity.

The study that combines data from 17,800 respondents from across the world, including India, with in-depth qualitative interviews of business people across the world, demonstrates the increasing level of working in `third places` – neither office nor home.

Ziona Strelitz, noted social anthropologist, town planner and workplace strategist, who authored the survey report, told reporters here via videoconferencing from London that these `third places` encompass business centres, clubs, libraries and informal areas such as coffee shops. The independent research report, which was supported by Regus, the world`s largest provider of flexible workspace, has also debunked the myth that flexible working means home-working.

"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," she said.

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

For corporations, third place working reduces property commitments, allows flexible use of facilities on demand, yet maintains a highly professional business image, it says. "With technology, is physical place both still important in work life? Can dispersed work settings across global cities benefit both workers and organisations? How do different types of third place serve different users for productive, sustainable work? These were key premises of the survey," Strelitz said.

"The survey found out that third place working is commonplace — a new norm. For many third place workers, it is their primary place of activity," she said. Key findings from the report include the revelation that 52 per cent of third place workers globally use business centres for some or all of their working time. Almost 72 per cent of these third place users spend over three days a week in their favourite business centre or other third place, and 70 per cent of business centre users find these environments more conducive in terms of productivity, as compared to more informal locations, she said.

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

Andrew Brown, Group Communications Director, Regus Group said, the company has 1,200 business centres around the world and hope to double the business in the next two-three years. "India is among the largest growing markets and the opportunities in India are tremendous," he said.

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, it said. "The users felt liberated," Strelitz said.

Compared to the global average of 75 per cent for those, who have used a business centre or business lounge, the percentage of such users in India was 73.6, the report said. While 49.1 per cent Indian respondents said they used a business centre or lounge to work for any or all of the time, 47 per cent said they used informal space like coffee shop, hotel room and general public area.