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Why place still                                                                                    matters in the         ...
Contents                                                                 Executive summary                                ...
Executive summary            1.   Contemporary technology enables people to work in a wide variety of places apart        ...
1.                Why research third places?                                                                              ...
Empirical evidence to answer the questions                                                 Networked nature of contemporar...
2.         Third place working: a new norm                                                                        Second m...
Frequent and regular use                                                                       Third place user profiles  ...
3.         Unlocking people’s productivity                                                                                ...
“I have a dog at home who bugs me to goout and play for half an hour. The dog is                                          ...
Easing work–family interface                                                             Third place benefits             ...
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home
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Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home

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A new independent research report from ZZA Responsive User Environments has scotched the myth that flexible working means home-working. The report, which was supported by Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workspace, combines data from a global 17,000-strong business survey with in-depth qualitative interviews with business people across the world, and demonstrates that working in ‘third places’ – neither office nor home – is the new normal. These ‘third places’ encompass business centres, clubs, libraries and informal areas such as coffee shops. Moreover, 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.

Authored by Professor Ziona Strelitz, the report notes that, “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.”

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Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home

  1. 1. Why place still matters in the digital age: Third place working in easy reach of home Report by ZZA Responsive User EnvironmentsWhy© ZZA matters in the digital age | Environments User Environments October 2011 place still Responsive User © ZZA Responsive October 2011 Page 1
  2. 2. Contents Executive summary 4 1. Why research third places? 6 2. Third place working: a new norm 10 3. Unlocking people’s productivity 14 4. Less distance: more sustainable, more productive 20 5. More than location: distinctive third place benefits 26 6. Corporate focus: commercial 30 and operational advantages 7. Harnessing talent in global cities: 34 meeting personal and business needs 8. Optimising third place working: guiding choice 38 9. Building the case for third place working 48 Appendix: who informed the picture 52 Why place still matters in the digital age | © ZZA Responsive User Environments October 2011Page 2 Page 3
  3. 3. Executive summary 1. Contemporary technology enables people to work in a wide variety of places apart 9. The interviewees report benefitting from the peace of mind that derives from from traditional offices. People now undertake work activity in a variety of venues their ability to meet family, personal and work commitments by working away such as trains, planes, coffee shops, hotels and at home. from, but in easy reach of, home. This involves numerous benefits that help ease the interface between work and family life, and that help safeguard 2. Partly because of this, traditional offices tend to be under-occupied, and a view work–life balance. has developed in corporate real estate circles that to improve the efficiency of the corporate workplace, its focus should be as a place of ‘exchange’, which prioritises 10. The research endorses the proposition that work settings close to home support provision for people to meet, while work that they undertake on a solo or individual productive working and sustainable living, and reduce stress. As organisations basis should occur wherever else they happen to be. cannot have offices that correspond with the degree of residential dispersal in large cities and metropolitan areas, spatially distributed third places are pivotal 3. This report covers research to examine the assumption that it is equally productive in releasing these benefits. for people to work anywhere. It is based on empirical evidence from a large scale online survey and a suite of systematic face to face interviews on the issues 11. The research identifies specific further ways that third places can enhance pertaining to where people choose to work, and why they do so. work life, in addition to the wide spatial distribution of work settings. These involve the reduced hassle associated with the fact that third places 4. The large-scale survey confirms that third place working is a new norm, and do not require users to be responsible for operation of the setting, and the the data from both inquiries sheds light on the current significance of physical available quality of third place settings and the services they provide. place to people who work in this way. 12. The research identifies the relevance of third places at all stages of the 5. To isolate people with choice of work setting, the interviews focused primarily business life cycle, particularly to small entities such as field teams, on people working in ‘third places’ – neither traditional offices nor home. start-ups, offshoots in new geographies, or organisations that are in transition The participants were individuals working in business centres, coffee shops – downsizing or expanding. and library settings in New York / New Jersey, Greater London, Paris Region, Hong Kong and Mumbai. 13. The interviewee testimonies show that people use the autonomy available today to find a set-up that works for them. Given the extent of contemporary 6. A research hypothesis was that many people in large cities work more choice in respect of where they work and for whom they invest their energies, effectively if they work outside their homes, but that regular travel to their the cumulative benefits identified by the research are relevant to organisations organisation’s own offices can challenge productive working and sustainable that seek competitive advantage in attracting, motivating and sustaining able living, because homes are dispersed across metropolitan areas, while people. This places a premium on narrowing the distance between residential corporate offices are increasingly concentrated in select locations. and work settings. For organisations relying on or seeking to capture talent, The interviews therefore enlisted people working in third places away from city use of professional third places is a relevant strategy. centres, or at transport interchanges, to learn about working in third places in easy access to home, and the benefits this may afford. 14. The report identifies the varied profiles of third place users, and provides a toolkit to guide prospective users in analysing requirements and respective 7. The research establishes that for many people, working in a third place now third place settings to inform strategies and optimise alignment. represents most of their work activity. Their frequent and regular work in a defined place outside of home shows that physical place remains central 15. Given the more demanding requirements of business users, the report to their work lives, even in this digital era. includes a degree of specific attention to the potential of business centres to meet them. 8. The data shows that people work in third places to help them be productive. This is driven by both practical constraints at home and psychological factors. 16. To support building a business case for third place working, the concluding Of these, a mindset that is conducive to work is a dominant factor. Users report chapter collates the many benefits that the research identifies at both the that third place working promotes this. individual and corporate levels. 17. Additional details regarding the interviewee base and names of organisations participating in the interviews are provided in the Appendix. Why place still matters in the digital age | © ZZA Responsive User Environments October 2011Page 4 Page 5
  4. 4. 1. Why research third places? Questions for the digital age This research reported here covers timely questions regarding how people work and prefer to work, when they can choose between operating in ‘virtual’ modus and working in a defined physical place. It involves fundamental issues for social theory and for business: • With available technology, and employment approach based on outcomes rather Technology and the break with fixed place than ‘presenteeism’, have people dispensed with physical place as an irrelevant and unnecessarily constraining element of work life? The dissemination of technology has revolutionised • Or does physical place – in parallel with, and supported by, technology – still play a central role in influencing work modes and promoting productivity? contemporary working. We can access, document, analyse and • Has the ‘non-place urban realm’ anticipated by futurists like Mel Webber back communicate information from a wide and ever-expanding range in the 1960s materialised as the prevailing norm? of places. This affords enormous potential choice in where we work. With available technology and management attitudes that These questions matter, because the contemporary cultural landscape offers options. We can no longer assume that traditional modes are the most productive because they facilitate agile working, a great proportion of work can now be prevailed in the past. Nor should we assume, even if this is convenient to those in charge done where people happen to be. of corporate real estate, that the place to undertake solo work – work that individuals do without reference to others – is anywhere outside the office, including home. Even though these two conditions are not always in place, people now work in The new mantra that collective places of work are only there for collaborative activity a wide variety of venues other than formal places of employment or home – at clients’ – for face-to-face ‘exchange’ – needs to be challenged with an understanding of how premises, on trains and planes, in coffee shops, business centres, libraries and people work effectively. clubs. Whether more formal – like business centres – or more informal – like coffee shops – as places where people work these are alternatives to offices and home. Planning and providing workspace on the presumption people can now work ‘anywhere’, These intermediate settings are called ‘third places’ – neither traditional offices risks suboptimisation. Productive strategies require up-to-date evidence on the nor people’s homes. preferences and realities of working today, and the associated benefits to capture. A large-scale 2011 survey1 – issued to over one million business owners and senior managers – incorporated a number of questions by ZZA to inform the research reported here. Almost half of the 17,800 respondents, from over 60 countries – The scale of global cities: third places away all contacted without prior knowledge of their working practices – report using third place settings for any or all of their work time. Of these, marginally more report from city centres working in business centres or lounges than those in informal settings. If physical place rather than full reliance on virtuality remains pivotal to productive work, the scale of global cities poses a challenge. Economic agglomeration concentrates activity in city centres and surrounding nodes, but large proportions of the population live in suburbs and peripheral towns. Businesses cannot own offices everywhere; Workplace settings used by participants for any or all of the time the imperatives of efficient consolidation do not allow this. At the same time, people’s family responsibilities and available energy conflict with the demands and uncertainties (large-scale Global Business Survey) of long commutes. People’s need for convenient access to workplaces in easy reach of home, calls for work settings to be dispersed. The requirements of individuals and organisations are in apparent tension. Based on previous research, ZZA formulated the proposition that well-planned Conclusion: and equipped workplace hubs close to residential areas offer the required solution. 49% Third place working is commonplace Spatially distributed settings, located in close access to homes, can provide professional 59% Your company’s own These results confirm that third place workplaces where people can undertake solo or teamwork, as well as meeting their office building/s working is indeed extensive. It highlights family and personal commitments. A business centre or business lounge the relevance of researching this by focusing directly on people who work This proposition was advanced in the 2010 report ‘Liveable lives’. But third places 48% Informal spaces in this way. The topic is the substance dispersed across large metropolitan areas exist. This current research references them 52% Home of this report. and their users to expand and test important questions: • Can dispersed work settings in global cities benefit both workers and organisations? • Of the range of places where people now work apart from traditional offices and home, how do different types of third place serve different users? • What can we learn from systematic, authentic accounts of people working in varied 1 Global Business Survey, February 2011, third places about promoting productive working and sustainable living? Marketing UK, Regus Why place still matters in the digital age | © ZZA Responsive User Environments October 2011 Page 6 Page 7
  5. 5. Empirical evidence to answer the questions Networked nature of contemporary business The research reflects the spatially networked nature of contemporary business. Supplemented by the large-scale survey questions, this report is based primarily on a suite of systematic, qualitative, face-to-face interviews about third place • The companies of more than 36%2 of the people interviewed in third places working, undertaken for the study. have offices in locations elsewhere in the country where the interview was held. • More than 47%3 of the companies have an office presence in another country or countries. Whom we interviewed To identify the characteristics of different third places, we interviewed people working The research generated a rich ethnography of why people work in these places and in business centre, coffee shop and library settings – 86 third place users in all. the benefits it affords. It shows how well-supported third place working can make for a productive re-engineering or reshaping of work and personal life. It also shows how different settings align with different situations and the tasks in hand. Where they were based To test the proposition that people in large cities look to reduce the distance between where they live and work, and benefit from this relative proximity, the research focused on third places situated around major cities and close to major transport hubs: Case-study: Regus New Jersey, Princeton New York / New Jersey metropolitan area – Manhattan and out to Princeton, New Jersey and Rye in Westchester “I get more done here in a four-hour day than I did when The hardest thing for me now that I work out in Princeton I worked in Manhattan. The eight-hour day is a forced was getting into a routine – I had all this extra time! idea. You get used to it as a commuter, but it’s definitely Before I used to get up at 4:30 am, exercise, head Greater London – the highly connected vicinities of London Bridge and Kings something that you get forced into because that’s how to Manhattan all day, and then go home. I’ve completely Cross rail stations, and outward to Chiswick in West London, Chelmsford, work is structured – it becomes routine. But the flexibility reorganised my life and schedule since working here. Essex to the east, and Watford, Hertfordshire to the north I have now that I work close by is so much better – The flow of the business used to be more of a five-day I’m more productive. schedule, with a lot of visitors. Now there’re less visitors, Paris – Neuilly, and out to Val d’Europe in Marne la Vallée and that’s better too, because before, 90% of the time, In our organisation I argued for being my own boss as them visiting us was a distraction and the 10% who we a way to make me more productive. The board had all wanted to meet we’d seek out anyway. I try to spend done the commute thing, so they understood. It also Monday to Wednesday here, at the business centre, Mumbai, Bandra East and then Thursday and Friday on the road visiting people. helped that it would be a lot cheaper – because the rent and having fewer employees out here, and saving on The time that I’ve gained was my commute time – now commute costs. It’s worked! I go to the gym and sleep more.” Hong Kong, Central. What they do People who work in third places include students and individuals undertaking private Alternative ways to read this report study, through solo business operators, and employees or affiliates of business organisations – both large and small. Chapter 2 provides an overview of third place working. Chapter 3 describes how third places support individuals in working productively. Chapter 4 reports how The interviewees represent leading-edge types of business that are entirely third places close to residential areas release the benefits users describe. predicated on today’s digital potential. Examples are: Chapter 5 identifies benefits associated with the distinctive nature of third places. Chapter 6 focuses at the organisational level, highlighting corporate advantages Satisfly: a new media service to airlines, matching up people for neighbouring of using third places as workspace for an organisation’s people. Chapter 7 presents seats during a flight, using data from online social networking websites. the role of appropriately located third places in harnessing talent in global cities and enabling business benefits. Chapter 8 helps shape the case for third place working and gives guidance on third place selection. The appendix describes the Collect+: a parcel delivery service, enabling customers to pick up or drop off research and sample base in greater detail. parcels at a local convenience store, rather than having to wait for deliveries at home or go to postal depots. The report can be read at multiple levels – readers can select Neopark: Offering web and smart-phone-based data to advise customers of available space in car-parks. from text, headings, graphics and narrative quotations according to their interest and available time. However, to appreciate the motivations and experiences that third place working, and third place working close to home, the interviewees’ 2 67 interviewees (78%) answered this question, authentic quotations are uniquely instructive. for the remaining 19 (22%) the question was N / A. 3 64 interviewees (74.5%) answered this question, for the remaining 22 (25.5%) the question was N / A. Why place still matters in the digital age | © ZZA Responsive User Environments October 2011Page 8 Page 9
  6. 6. 2. Third place working: a new norm Second most frequent work venue Home is second for almost half the sample (45%). No other setting comes close to home as the second most frequent place where the interviewees work. And companies’ own buildings – the traditional ‘first place’ for working, rank joint third in frequency of where the interviewees work. In part this is because some users of business centres have loose ties with corporate offices in their organisations, and because many people working in libraries and coffee shops, and some people Chapter 1 established that large numbers of people work in working in business centres, have no connections with company office space (though third places for any or all of the time. How significant is this? this does not apply to them all). Do they work in third places only briefly and occasionally, or does it comprise a more substantial or perhaps major part of their work lives? This chapter focuses on the ‘where’, ‘when’ Second most frequent place of work and ‘how often’ of third place working. Third places as people’s most common 14% 9% 11% This work location work venue Company’s own buildings A client’s office 7% Another business centre or business lounge 4% Where third space users work most often Other informal spaces Home 45% 10% A high majority of the interviewees – nearly three-quarters – report the business Other centre, library or coffee shop where they were interviewed as their most frequent place of work. Most frequent place of work Other work venues 5% 7% This work location 1% 9% Company’s own buildings 13% 1% A client’s office This work location 27% 5% Another business centre or business lounge Company’s own buildings 13% A client’s office (0%) Other informal spaces 72% Home Another business centre or business lounge Other 7% Other informal spaces Home 7% Other 33% Why place still matters in the digital age | © ZZA Responsive User Environments October 2011 Page 10 Page 11
  7. 7. Frequent and regular use Third place user profiles Many people work in the same third space setting on a frequent and regular basis. Anyone, of any status and in any sector, can use third places as a work setting. This varies across the range of third place types; business centres are used more Typical users include the following frequently than coffee shops and library settings. People undertaking business activities on a solo basis or in small entities Frequent means frequent People undertaking private study Despite the flexibility associated with third place working, half the interviewees report working in the same venue for four to five days per week. People in the start-up, early development or downsize phases of a commercial enterprise People representing a firm on a predominantly agile basis – whether the company has fixed space in the same country, abroad or nowhere at all“I’ve got the internet and a docking stationat home, and there’s no disturbancefrom family members – I’ve got the spacethere. But part of me misses an officeatmosphere, so I come here Monday to Anchor effect “My boss walks to this centre but I driveFriday, when I’m in Mumbai.” Typical number of days based in this work setting Once a business founder or principal selects a third place setting, their team can for ages to get here. I must work here, it’s the mentality. I work independently of my become linked to the same venue. Even if the anchor uses it infrequently, the pull Business centre – Mumbai, boss and there’re just the two of us but Bandra East on colleagues can be like a conventional office. we’ve never discussed me working near 4% my home. There’s a business centre near 7% my house, but I think she expects me to 11% 1 day 9% work here because she doesn’t want to“On the weekdays I come here so I can 2 days be alone, even though she knows whatachieve a lot and have a break at the 3 days it’s like because she used to travel theweekend. Here is where I work and home 4 days 19% distance in the opposite direction.”is for rest.” 5 days 6 days Business centre user – Paris, Library – London, Kings Cross 38% 7 days (0%) Pont de Neuilly 12% Other“I work six days a week in a café, studyingfor 12 to 14 hours a day. It’s convenient for Conclusion: Third place working is a contemporary normme to come here. It’s open late and alsogood for going out after working to havefun in the city.” While third place working may still be unfamiliar to some, Coffee shop – New York, Manhattan the research shows it is now significant and normative. For many people, working in a third place forms the rump of their work activity and time, and substantially more prevalent than working at home. Their work in a defined physical place – frequently and regularly – shows that they have not dispensed“Everyday, I work either here or a Where else people work with physical place as an irrelevant and unnecessary aspectdifferent business centre in this network, However, like people who are based in traditional offices, but who go to meetings of work life.depending on where I’m meeting people.” and conferences, third place users can work in a given place for just part of the day, Business centre – London, and then move elsewhere as required or as it suits. ‘Other’ work places include London Bridge being ‘out and about’ (for salesmen), in production environments (like studios) and in university libraries (for students), at client’s homes (for financial services advisers). Or it may involve the same type of third place, but venues situated in different locations. Why place still matters in the digital age | © ZZA Responsive User Environments October 2011 Page 12 Page 13
  8. 8. 3. Unlocking people’s productivity The interviewees in the current study widely endorse these benefits as reflecting their experience, and proposed several others in addition. The analysis identifies three high-level reasons – apart from convenient access – why people choose to work in the given third place where they were interviewed. Across the range of third places, key drivers are: Facilitating productive work Chapter 2 established that – for those who work in third places Safeguarding work–life balance at least – physical place remains a relevant dimension of work Easing work–family interface life. For those who work in these settings this is largely a choice. Why do they choose this? Do these places influence how they work and promote their productivity? And if they are free not to work in a traditional office setting, why are they not working at Conducive mindset home? Is this because of practical constraints, or is it also A mental state aligned to working “It’s more productive working here than on a choice? What benefits does third place working bring? Why does anyone who could elect to work at home, who has the technology, space the go; it’s a more structured environment and there’re less distractions. Here you’re This chapter addresses the ‘whys’. and licence to do so, choose to work elsewhere? The data explains this apparent in work mode, outside you’re in a leisurely anomaly, based not just on practical constraints at home but also reasons that are mode, so it’s not as productive.” ‘in the head’. Business centre – Essex, Chelmsford A frequent driver for third place working is its motivational influence: a more productive mindset. This energising effect is reported across geographies, and Third places: user benefits equally by people working in business centre, coffee shop and library settings. Our previous research suggested numerous benefits from working in third places, particularly third places close to home. Getting started “Some people find it hard to work at Productive working depends on mobilisation. Users report difficulty in initiating home because they need to cross the Benefits of working in third place settings work activity at home. line between work and their daily life. If I worked from home, I’d probably sit in my pyjamas with the TV on in the Convenient location background; it wouldn’t be good.” Business centre – Essex, Chelmsford Reduced travel time A business-like / professional environment Leveraging off other people working “I’m more productive working here. Feels motivating / stimulating You feed off each other, it’s good for One of the most frequently cited benefits is being galvanised by a sense of common productivity.” purpose people around, working too. Available support and facilities as you require Business centre – This challenges the convenient corporate real estate belief that people undertaking Hertfordshire, Watford Guaranteed space to work solo work can do it equally effectively at home. Numerous interviewees speak of their need to do their own work surrounded by others who are also working, and some Confidential work setting convene with friends in a third place for the mutual encouragement to keep working, “I can work with my friend here, it’s very though their respective work content has no overlap at all. isolating doing a PhD, especially as I’m not More flexibility in work hours and location near my university, so I try to find friends who are doing PhDs, and especially now A change of scene / somewhere to work separate from home or elsewhere that I’m nearly finished – it encourages me to get the work done on time. My friend is Reduced distraction doing a totally different topic to me.” Library – London, Kings Cross Sense of community / less isolation Scope to network / meet people Better work–life balance A ‘greener’ / more sustainable lifestyle Why place still matters in the digital age | © ZZA Responsive User Environments October 2011 Page 14 Page 15
  9. 9. “I have a dog at home who bugs me to goout and play for half an hour. The dog is Free from distractions Safeguarding work–life balance Working at home involves distractions that sidetrack people from their workworse than the kids! The kids have their intentions – domestic tasks, snacking, family members, neighbours and pets.own space that they go to, but the dog Different settings; different roleswants me to play.” People use spatial separation to support different roles. They attach different ‘selves’ to different zones and places. Business centre – New Jersey, Princeton Many people work in a third place to protect their work–life balance. It’s about home as the place to relax, where they can draw a line under work and let go. Across the geographies and the third place settings, people report having to establish a physical separation between home and work to achieve this.“I prefer to work from here. If I worked at Complete freedom to focus, as the work requireshome I’d end up doing other stuff. I know Home presents a continual struggle to ignore competitive claims on people’s Significantly, this point is made by all age groups, with the youngest age bandsthere’re things to do at home, I see that attention; they report only being able to focus fully on work when they are away (below 20, and 20–30) as forceful as the oldest in voicing its importance.there’s gardening to do, or the washing. from home. The data challenges a supposition that younger people – grown up with virtualityThere’s nothing to take my mind off and multitasking – are more flexible than ‘digital migrants’ in their approachwork here.” to physical place. Most young people interviewed expressed a need to separate Business centre – London, home and where they work, with 63% reporting ‘change of scene’ to be a benefit London Bridge of working in third places.“I don’t work at home, because of Change of scene Compartmentation: would never stop working if worked “Working in the office allows adiscipline and work ethic – I only work Physical place forms a large part of the driver for third place working. One of the from home separation and enables me to relax andat home in the evening to finish up work. compartmentalise my life. It makes more strongest advantages people report is change of scene. This is about promoting Spatial separation to support mental separation! It’s also a strategy to secureI work here even if I’m not seeing clients sense for me to come here than to drift the right mindset. ‘downtime’. Media discourse is very lively on the threat of ubiquitous technologyor using the library’s databases.” into family stuff and drift into work. to people’s personal time. With permanent access to technology, physical location That’s what used to happen before – it was Library – London, Kings Cross is often the only relevant marker to define a limit to work. The irony is that with harder to separate the two. The challenge technology’s scope to work ‘wherever you are’, people are using physical place when you work at home is ensuring that to define where work is off-limits. you don’t work too much.” Business centre – Essex, Chelmsford Case-study: Hong Kong, Central “The danger when you work from home is “Time goes very quickly here – it’s important to keep in When you get off the ferry you’re in that mindset. that you think you’ve got good work–life the mindset. I like to keep moving. It’s very situational – There’s a benefit from movement, I like to be on the move balance, but work seeps into home time. the main factor is being able to walk to the ferry, continue so I gain a change in scenery. Where I live it’s very quiet If you leave a workplace, you’re done. what I’m doing, and have everything within 15 minutes’ and in Hong Kong it’s not, so the change gives me the It’s a physical break – you leave and then walk – here, the other business centre, etc. In the absence drive for working.” you’re home.” of meetings, I prefer to be at home in the morning and work here in the afternoon. Business centre – Hertfordshire, Watford Separating ‘own’ and contracted work “I also work on my own projects as well as my contracted work. I’m an author as Technology also facilitates being able to work on varied accounts and to different well as a copywriter. So I have different masters; much contemporary work is done on a portfolio basis. The research reflects environments to work in. It’s nice to have this, with numbers of interviewees working for employers as well as themselves. that separation between my personal Whether their own work is developing business opportunities, fulfilling contracts that projects and those I’m contracted to are up and running, or pursuing study, doing it in a third place helps them keep do – it’s a marker of my own time and it it distinct. switches your mindset.” Business centre – London, London Bridge Why place still matters in the digital age | © ZZA Responsive User Environments October 2011 Page 16 Page 17
  10. 10. Easing work–family interface Third place benefits Given the realities of life for those with family responsibilities, juggling work and Productive and sustainable: the building blocks domestic involvements involves inevitable strains that people seek to alleviate. Physical proximity between work and home is valued for the peace of mind it affords, by allowing them to move between their respective commitments in shorter time frames, reducing the risk of delay through travel contingencies. Third places have a specific role in this, enabling people to work closer to home, their children’s school, other family members and pets that require attention, than working in their company’s office would often permit. And the peace of mind that this brings promotes productive working. Enabling productive work“The bus picks up my child in the morning Close proximity to school and day careand she goes to after school club, and Working in a convenient location to meet routine commitments makes life moreeither I or my husband pick her up. But if sustainable. And the further benefit of being in easy reach ‘in case somethingthere’s an emergency, I want to be close, happens’ is a notable strong theme voiced by third space users. It is almost universaland I don’t have a long commute to here, in the reasons that interviewees at the US business centres give for working in theirso it makes that possible.” chosen settings. Business centre – New Jersey, Easing work- Safeguarding Princeton family interface work-life balance“I feel more comfortable working nearerto the school that my daughter is at. When © ZZA Responsive User Environmentsshe first started school, I worked in CentralLondon and felt uncomfortable not beingable to access her immediately if therewas a need – I would have to factor in 45minutes to get there. It’s slightly different Conclusion: Working away from home enhances productivity,now, because she’s at a school that offersafter-care, but my potential to be late isn’t facilitates family involvement and secures downtimeas great now because this centre is somuch nearer.” The data confirms the research proposition that place still Business centre – London, Chiswick matters in the digital age. People use different physical zones to support different mind zones. The interviewees use places other than home to help them be productive. This is driven“My wife is disabled so I need to be Diversity is more than just parents with young children by practical constraints at home, e.g. shortage of space ornearby. I have to work somewhere that’seasily commutable everyday.” The work–family issues that people need to accommodate do not just involve young technology limitations, as well as psychological factors. children. Wider family responsibilities also feature – to partners, parents, even Business centre – London, siblings’ children. Recognising these requirements is relevant to corporate strategies And it is mindset that dominates; the inability to start work and London Bridge for diversity. keep working productively at home drives people to work in third places, alongside their need to define a space where they feel entitled not to work. Productivity is also enhanced by peace“There are physical walls at home, but my Protecting family life; protecting work of mind from being able to meet family commitments as wellfamily don’t respect them. The kids come A key driver in compartmentalising work and home is ring-fencing family life.home from school and if I’m working at The challenges are keeping work out of family and safeguarding work from intrusion as work, and to be in easy reach from work in the event ofhome they come down and talk to me. It’shard, when I’m physically there, for my by family. Physical separation helps to achieve this. family contingencies.daughter not to be physically with me –she’d want to sit next to me. Or if I knowit’s just downstairs, I would go and dosome work. Now that I work at this center,I can concentrate my work time and thenwhen I’m home I’m mom.” Business centre – New Jersey, Princeton Why place still matters in the digital age | © ZZA Responsive User Environments October 2011 Page 18 Page 19

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