It used to be that you did your personal things at home, and your work chores at the office. Several years ago, we noticed that Next Cities had a growing number of “Third Places-” places that weren’t home (the first place) or work (the second place.) Third Places are in-between places - your local bars, coffee houses, and funky little bistros - where people meet to talk, create, and collaborate. Third Places blend work and life, and don’t play by the stale rules of corporate culture. They are gems in the crowns of Next Cities.
Even if your city doesn’t have Third Places, it must take mobile workers seriously. Cisco estimates that over 70% of the U.S. workforce is already mobile. Globally, one quarter of all workers are mobile, and the trend is on the rise.
Mobile Workers are workers who, “perform their work in multiple locations such as customer sites, company offices, their homes, vendor offices, planes, and hotels”. (Source: Richman, Noble, & Johnson, 2002, p. 9.)
When workers don’t need an office - or are on the road without access to one - how can cities keep them plugged in and productive? Here are two examples:
#1: Mesa Del Sol, NM sits just outside of Albuquerque, and has been planned intentionally to accommodate the shifts in a mobile workforce. Mesa Del Sol is one of the first cities built for mobile workers, who must blend work and life and demand a city that’s walkable, yet globally connected:
“(Mesa Del Sol will) feature home offices sequestered from family foot traffic and fully wired for transnational connections. Business centers strewn throughout the community -- all within a short walk or electric-cart ride -- will offer rent-by-the-hour support staff plus state-of-the-art meeting rooms and seamless videoconference hookups to China and India. With the Albuquerque airport only six minutes and one stoplight away, a former regular of the big-city airport crush can leave for meetings in other cities after breakfast and still be home for dinner.” (Source, Business Week)
#2: Next Space in Santa Cruz, CA is a membership-based work space and innovation center. Think Starbucks (where the coffee’s free) meets creative ad agency. Rebecca and I stopped in this summer and learned that Next Space was started by a former next-gen mayor and his economic development director, who felt there had to be a place where the city’s creative class could be inspired, productive, and connect with each other. Part office, part neighborhood, the space is cool and inspiring. It contains all your garden variety business center needs (color printer, fax, phone service, work spaces, blazing high speed internet) plus the things that make work easier: free coffee, a full kitchen, and staff that gives a damn about helping you connect to others. Next Space offers its members networking, lunch and learns, sharing sessions, and brain bumping among an array of professionals.
What’s your city doing to set the table for mobile workers?