This must be an idea whose time has come, because two businesses opening in Walnut Creek are tapping into it.
This week witnesses the launch of two alternative workspaces — one downtown Walnut Creek and one near the Pleasant Hill BART station, the area where Walnut Creek, Concord and Pleasant Hill come together. These are places where professional nomads can gain some benefits and amenities of an office environment without sinking roots.
"The way we work is undergoing a significant transformation wherever you go," said Victor Mataraso, president of the Laptop Lounge, at 1701 N. California Blvd in Walnut Creek. in the California Square development. "Working from home isn't all it's cracked up to be. And at the cafe, at two in the afternoon, they're fighting over outlets. There needs to be another option."
"It's a collaborative space where we can build a community of people who can work alongside each other and find that to be a more stimulating and rewarding experience than working in isolation," said Brian Dice of Third Workplace at 7000 Sunne Lane, Suite 112, around the corner from Treat Boulevard and a short stroll from the Pleasant Hill BART station. As to the name, said Dice: "It's not your home, it's not your office — it's your third workplace."
Third Workplace is opening first in Walnut Creek, with plans to open locations in San Francisco, the mid-Peninsula and the South Bay within the next year, Dice said. The Pleasant Hill/Walnut Creek location works for Third Workplace with easy access to public transportation (BART), multiple office buildings in the area for a work environment, ample parking and a Starbucks down the street, Dice said.
The new company also appreciates the way the Walnut Creek community embraces "work-life balance," Dice said.
The new company shares ownership with an international corporate workspace company in San Francisco, OfficeNetwork.
The Laptop Lounge on North California Boulevard grew out of Mataraso's first stab at entrepreneurship, the Reliable Receptionist on Citrus Circle in the Shadelands area.
The Reliable Receptionist offered off-site receptionists but not the other office amenities that the Laptop Lounge will, Mataraso said, including locked mailboxes, a conference room, a private office available for quick meetings, a kitchen area and a phone "booth" (bigger than the kind you're thinking of) for a quiet call. And … also … a receptionist.
There are alternative worksites operating in Berkeley and San Francisco that cater to the twenty-something online crowd. Mataraso sees the Laptop Lounge appealing to professionals looking for collaboration and an office environment. He sees, for instance, business coming from attorneys with solo practices who don't want to invest in a full office with all the expenses that entails.
It's a hybrid of a business lounge and a collaborative working community.
Third Workplace is working on partnerships with big employers where their professionals can call timeout on a nasty commute and get a couple hours of work in first at Third Workplace. The big employers are cognizant of research that workers tackling an aggravating commute are less productive, particularly right after they climb out of their vehicles, Dice said.
Third Workplace will work with AT&T and its big office in San Ramon, scene of a few gnarly commutes on Highway 680.
"There is a growing trend toward the consumerization of the workplace," said Chris Mach, global workplace strategist for AT&T, quoted in a Third Workplace news release, which is attached to this article. "With the advent of social networking, the acceleration of wireless technologies, and the capability to work virtually anywhere, office workers are becoming more enabled and more savvy consumers. "They are demanding a workplace platform that serves their social needs, each individual's work-life blend and creative aspirations. Third Workplace is the manifestation of all of this. I look forward to watching this evolve."
Third Workplace offers access by the hour or by monthly subscription options with reduced rates.