Third Areas

Startup Stock PhotosHoward Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks once said that he wanted his stores to become the “third place” for people. Traditionally people spent significant amounts of time at home and at work, and the corner bar was that “third place.” People stopped going to the corner bar years ago and to a certain extent, Starbucks (and similar coffee shops) have filled that gap.

The same concept can be applied to office design. Office space had been designed with two primary places for people to go. Either their work area, (whether that’s a cubicle or office) or a conference room to attend a meeting. But people can now work almost anywhere thanks to a variety of technological innovations. So now there’s an opportunity to create a “third place” within an office. Whether it’s soft seating, a large cafeteria, or outdoor patios, options abound.

Studies show that people who can choose where they work are more engaged and feel more connected to the company than people who are forced to work in a specific area. Companies should be designing space that takes this into account and offers employees the option to take their work to a comfortable couch, a bar-height table in the kitchen, or outside to soak up some sun. This can be accomplished by having the company build out this third space within their demised premises or leverage a landlord that has constructed it into the building’s master plan.

Many landlords have identified this trend and are retrofitting their buildings to provide this amenity. They are installing high-end food service, comfortable seating areas, and wifi throughout their buildings. They are providing tenants with the ability to create a third area while in some cases, allowing tenants to actually shrink their footprints.

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