Developing a Social Workplace: How “Third Places” Fit In

Posted by Path Interactive on : November  12,  2015


best employers and most successful companies harness the power of relaxed, social interactions. They understand that connection and interaction can often kick-start both creativity and innovation. By understanding the concept of third places, you can bring out the best in your employees as well as create a forward-thinking and social workspace. The most fertile ground for ingenuity is the third place – the gathering space for spirited information exchanges.

The Idea of the Third Place

American sociologist Ray Oldenburg pioneered the idea of the “third place” in the late 1980s. He considered everyone’s “first place” their home and their “second place” their workplace, arguing that third places hold great import for everything from democracy and civic engagement to social connections. Consider the fictional third places presented in the television program “Cheers” and the often-quoted line: “A place where everyone knows your name.”

Third places share a number of vital characteristics. They provide neutral ground, where people are encouraged to come and go as they please without obligation. They also provide a level playing field, where social status and rank don’t matter. Easy conversation is the main activity of third places, and the mood is a playful one. You’ll find a host of regulars, and a comfortable, homey ambiance where everyone feels welcome and pretentiousness is banished. To those who gather there, a third place is a home away from home.


Modern third places have attracted workers who seek a comfortable atmosphere where they can connect while accomplishing their necessary tasks. Cafes with wireless internet connectivity have become today’s social workplaces. Regular patrons know they can take their laptops to their favorite coffee shop, have a short chat with both the staff and other usual denizens, and sit down to work refreshed.

Creating a Third Place in the Second Place: Herman Miller’s Living Office

With a growing number of employees choosing to work from such spaces, keen business leaders have begun to examine how to utilize the spirit of the third space in order to create a more social workplace. A well-designed workspace puts employees at ease, facilitates creativity and enables collaboration between workers. Both of these behaviors lead to higher employee satisfaction, greater loyalty, and ultimately increased work quality and productivity.

The Herman Miller Living Office provides a perfect example of how these inspirational, collaborative work spaces can be brought into your office. The Living Office environment creates a natural flow between solitary work tasks and dynamic gathering areas where ideas come to life. Organic settings of this sort bring people together to talk and provide the tools necessary for easy teamwork.

As you look to create a more social workplace, you can count on Benhar Office Interiors to help you incorporate third place principles and achieve your goals. Contact us online today, or call us at 212-481-6666 to discuss your ideas.

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