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December 27, 2020 —

Workplace as third place

The old model is broken. This phrase continues to have a transformative effect in many types of structures, models, and environments. It’s use in this context has a lot to do with the workplace model and how it used to leverage the employee for many decades. 

Over the past 5 years and catching on quickly to every market segment, the workplace continues to evolve and experimentation is at its highest. Employees are revolting against the old model of long nights, weekends, no amenities and pure overload of work just to make partner after 10 or 20 years. The submission of one’s life into work overload to move up the ladder seems to be dissipating and employees seem to be demanding a different approach to workplace environments. 

Adding to this phenomenon is the figure that less young professionals are buying homes ornery aspire to buy homes so the destination into a home has also changed the dynamics between the ‘first’ place and the ‘third’ place.

These dynamics are important to us at Dpt. because they shape and dictate the strategic and creative pursuit of our work and how we design for this evolving workplace environment. 

In order to understand this a little better, we want to give you some context to where this idea comes from. American urban sociologist, Ray Oldenburg, is known for writing and perhaps coining the importance of informal public places and how they function for working societies. The idea, although it becomes popular in conversation in the 80’s, is not really a new thing. We have been occupying and engaging in these third places for a very long time. The Parisian Cafe from when the gas lamp activated nightlife in the city, to beer gardens, to pubs, to post offices, the idea of third places has been part of our society for quite a while. 

The interesting component here is the hierarchy of the ‘first’ (home), ‘second’ (office), and ‘third’ (coffeeshop) place within today’ structure. The height of the first place was the growth of suburbia in America, where people commuted to work, did their duties and came back home to build a home, a family and a plethora of memories close to their loved ones. It is here where the workplace really becomes the ‘second’place. Within this structure, the ‘third’ place was maybe a pub for a beer with a colleague or a meeting. We understand that this structure has really been flipped from the inside out now. 

The workplace of today and tomorrow seems to be blurring the lines of what first, second and third places are. Today’s workplace is experiential. What we mean by that is that today’s work environment must engage the employee beyond a paycheck. It must resonate with their golas, excite and tell a story that compels my daily visit and also be social to keep me in it beyond my working hours. 

This is where we come in and help shape work space that have multi-sensorial touchpoints. We understand that story and purpose drives employees to consider a work environment over others via color, texture, amenities, graphics and experiential layers. The workstation and cubicle used to be your destination whereas now everything even your work desk is part of the experience for work. With more people opting out of their homeownership, the workplace, in our opinion, has become the first place, the pub and coffeeshop the second and your dwelling the third. How will these models change the environments and experiences of each of these places? We have definitely seen the competition to create and make each of these place the “first”places as more developers are putting money into entertainment and amenities to new buildings, coffeeshops are trying to include art programs and a social schedule to bring more foot traffic, and offices are doing everything to recruit and keep employees happy enough to work with no time attached to their daily structure. 

We take these changing models and enjoy seeing and creating ideas to shape the experiences of each.