INNOVATION

Could A 'Third Space' Be The Answer To A Thriving Workplace?

A middle ground for introverts and extroverts exists.

09/12/2016 7:19 AM AEDT | Updated 09/12/2016 7:19 AM AEDT
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Not in the office, but not at home. Welcome to the 'third space.'

Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, by now you're probably aware that we each share qualities on both sides of the fence and therefore require a variety of working environments in order to be productive.

"Most people work in a behavioural rhythm which means we don't generally work in a collaborative way every single hour of the workday, nor do we work in an individually-focused way every hour of the day," Emma Davenport, head of Brand and Culture at Davenport Campbell told The Huffington Post Australia.

Davenport's interior design and architecture firm redesigns the workspaces of some of Australia's biggest companies and operates on the premise that everybody has their own individual way of working.

"We've seen how environments have dramatically changed over the past seven years and increasingly, we are seeing this shift to a 'third space' which caters for both the introvert and the extrovert," Davenport said.

The 'third space' relates to an in-between space that isn't the home or the office but a cafe or library for instance, or a co-working office space such as those offered by WeWork.

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Introverts often feel alienated by their workplace.

"The concept of choice has been restricted to within the workplace and what we're seeing now is a move beyond the bounds of the walls of a building," Davenport said.

But this "choice" isn't as simple as it sounds. Yet.

"Organisations need to have policies that support this level of choice which requires a complete re-think on outcomes and productivity," Davenport said.

The line of sight style of management, that says, 'if your employees aren't visible in the office, they're not doing their work' simply cannot exist within the third space model.

In order for a third space to work, productivity needs to be measured in terms of deliverables as opposed to sitting at your desk.

"In order for a third space to work, there needs to be a certain level of trust and productivity needs to be measured in terms of deliverables as opposed to sitting at your desk," Davenport said.

Davenport explains 30 to 50 percent of the workforce are recognised as introverts.

"We're talking about incredibly talented people who often feel alienated by their workplace and like they can't deliver their best in an open, noisy, over-stimulated workplace," Davenport said.

Whether the third space will take off beyond the realms of the youth-led startup world, the jury is still out. But it's sure nice to envisage getting through your 8,769 emails with a beach view and steaming pot of chai tea by your side.

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