Is the café no longer the other office?
Technology provides the ability to work anywhere. Agile working is becoming more common, but while we can work almost anywhere, we often seek public spaces. Public spaces meant for gathering, socializing or talking business have been around for centuries. The English Stock Exchange and insurance industry can be traced to the 18th-century coffee shops of London.
With the spread of Agile working, more and more workers are seeking to work in the ’Third Place’ (the term coined in 1989 by the sociologist Ray Olenburg in his book The Great Good Place, the first place being your home, the second the office, and the third is the place where you go to escape the other two).
Working from home can be isolating or distracting and so the current trend is to seek locations like the local coffee shop, which is comfortable, familiar and has great coffee, however, we are now seeing café owners objecting to their valuable and costly spaces being taken up for extended periods by someone, who for the price of a coffee, is being provided a free office. To quote from US coffee shop owner Cristian Velasco’s Tips for Coffee-Shop Etiquette, “Tip No 5; think about leaving the coffee shop”.
Perhaps this is the beginning of a new workplace change in which people will start to move back to the office. If so we need to consider the kind of work spaces employees will be seeking, secondary to their desks.
Collaborative hubs? Private working booths? Or perhaps a social breakout space that’s every bit as good as their local café!
– Mike Radda, Director