Beautiful lounges and the latest technology may make employees want to come to the office, but getting there is not always possible—or beneficial. Whether employees travel for business, need to work between off-site meetings or just prefer to do solitary tasks away from the clamor of a busy workplace, they often need third places—work sites away from home or office—to get things done.
In the past, that often meant sitting in your car to do a teleconference or parking your laptop in a coffee shop or on the floor of an airport terminal. But Mark Gilbreath says he has a better idea.
Gilbreath is the CEO of LiquidSpace Inc., a website and mobile app that allows people to book flexible workspaces around the country by the hour or by the day. Spaces are available in a range of locations from co-working offices to libraries, hotels and airport lounges.
"We're like OpenTable or Expedia," Gilbreath says. "We partner with workspace providers to put the right space in the hands of employees."
Global consulting firm Accenture uses LiquidSpace as part of its workforce mobility program, which gives employees the option to book rooms on the road and charge it back to the company. Most Accenture employees only come to the office two to three times a week and they often need places on the road to conduct meetings and get work done, says Dan Johnson, Accenture's global director of workplace innovation.
Liquid Space also helps Accenture manage its real estate footprint more fluidly by addressing peaks in office use without physically expanding the office footprint, Johnson says. "When we reach the upper end of our utilization sweet spot, employees can use LiquidSpace to find other spaces relative to their location."
LiquidSpace isn't alone in offering third-place-to-work options. Co-working chains, such as NextSpace and Hub, offer companies and contractors office space they can rent by the hour or day; and traditional office management company Regus now gives members flexible access to office facilities through it's Businessworld service.
The traditional office space will never disappear, but the proliferation of these types of temporary co-working environments will help companies boost mobile workers' productivty while helping them maintain a better work-life balance.