No longer office bound

2014-01-23 16:46

Back at work after the holidays and already sick  Of the traffic and ringing of phones? Maybe it’s  time to give working in a ‘third place’ a go

Thanks to the it revolution, work no longer needs to be office bound. All you need is a laptop, access to wi-fi, a plug point, a table top and – voilà! – you can be as productive as in any formal office.

An array of technologies allows us to get our jobs done wherever we may be – at home, at the airport or in a coffee shop in a foreign country.

Besides being able to work away from the office when necessity dictates it, more and more workers are choosing to work else where.

Workplace strategist professor ziona strelitz says people want to work in more places than simply their office or home.

Libraries, coffee shops and business centres are all examples of ‘third places’ – venues providing alternatives that better suit contemporary workers’ needs and lifestyles.

So just what is a ‘third place’?

American Urban Sociologist Ray Oldenburg coined the term to refer to places where people can meet and interact away from their first and second places – home and office.

Ideal third places are situated close to home and are easily accessible. They usually host regular patrons and the atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed.

A global survey indicates third places are becoming a new norm and strelitz believes the phenomenon is beneficial to the productivity and sustainability of modern businesses.

Benefits of working from a third place

• Convenient location reduces travel time

• Cost savings for businesses as less formal office space is required

• Motivating and stimulating environment

• Reduced distraction, improved productivity

• Less isolating than working from home

• Scope to network

• Better work-life balance

Johannesburg: Wolves

Shop 4, Corlett drive, Illovo, Sandton

011 4472360

Décor is hipster chic: mismatched tables and chairs, a giant bookshelf with trinkets and interesting quotes. It feels cosy and lived-in, making it a popular space for freelancers.

The crowd Trendy, arty professionals in their 20s and 30s.

Not everyone at wolves is working; some pop in for lunch pick-ups, others are there for casual meetings.

Noise levels the place is busy but it doesn’t get too noisy. Many people wear earphones to aid concentration. It’s an easy place to work in with a good balance between stimulation and peace and quiet.

Wi-fi speed and limitations speed is good. You have to order something for access, even if it’s copious amounts of coffee.

Power availability there are three tables with plug access, and they can fill up fast.

Tip it’s best to go with a fully charged laptop as wolves is a coffee shop before an office-away-from-the-office.

Table space there are plenty of surfaces for your laptop. Some tables are so big you can share the space with other people without disturbing each other.

Accessibility and parking wolves is conveniently located on the corner of busy oxford road and corlett drive. It’s close to the main highways, the sandton business district and trendy rosebank and there’s ample safe parking across the road.

Quality of coffee I’d give it a solid 9 out of 10. The same applies to the variety of drinks on offer, including smoothies, lattes and juices. – Zama Nkosi

Cape town: the field office

37 Barrack street, Cape Town 021 461 4599 and The woodstock exchange, 66 Albert road,

Woodstock 021 447 2020

The venue doubles as a showroom for designers Pedersen + Lennard. The décor is simple and pleasing and the space is filled with natural light. Features include quirky hanging lights made from buckets.

The crowd a mix of younger and older people, mostly professional office types and creative industry freelancers. The laptop of choice is the Macbook pro. Out of 10 or so people, about seven are working.

Noise levels there’s soft background music and the hum of conversation, but levels spike when the juicer is fired up behind the counter. Still, I was able to make a phone call without trouble and acoustics are such you can’t make out other people’s conversations.

Wi-fi speed and limitations Fast enough. Unlimited as long as you order something.

Power availability all the tables against the walls have plugs.

Table space plenty. I had a whole table for four to myself.

Accessibility and parking there’s some street parking in front of the building, but most clients come on foot.

Tip safe space is provided for bicycles inside and there are special rates for bike commuters on Fridays.

Quality of coffee excellent. The brews are from deluxe coffeeworks, a Cape Town favourite. There’s also a limited range of cold drinks and juices. – Bibi Slippers

Durban: Freedom café

37 st Mary’s venue, Greyville 031 309 4434

Built around a converted red shipping container, the décor is simple and quirky. A full wall of mirrors, leather couches and funky wooden stools make the interior comfy and cool. The café is attached to the chic concierge boutique bungalows hotel.

The crowd creative types, trendy students, mommy lunch clubs and guests from the hotel.

Noise levels the café is tucked between two roads of quaint houses so it feels far from the bustle of greyville. Tables are nicely spread out so the most noise you’ll hear is from the coffee machine and the kitchen that opens up onto the courtyard.

Wi-Fi speed and limitations Free, fast and unlimited as long as you order something.

Power availability could be much better, with only one plug near the office. The staff try their best to accommodate everyone with extension cords and multi-plugs.

Table space a table for two will easily accommodate a laptop, coffee and a snack.

Accessibility and parking parking is limited and can be tricky to negotiate.

Tip it’s likely to be busiest at lunchtime so go just before or after the peak.

Quality of coffee famous for their aggressive chocolate coffee brewed by Durban’s Colombo Tea & Coffee co. Do try the carrot cake or rainbow cake. – Zanele Mji


This is a concept that’s growing globally: independent co-workers share a space and facilities to save costs and avoid the isolation of working alone at home and the distractions that cafés can cause.

Twenty fifty in Cape Town is an example of a co-working space where people pay membership fees to use the office space and can also connect to a community that aims to inspire and support each other. More info at

Travelling? Try these spots on the road oudtshoorn: La dolce Vita

60 baron van rheede street 044 279 3269

This karoo-meets-italy restaurant offers a cosy courtyard and is quite quiet. Wi-fi is free if you order something from the menu – it’s not the fastest internet in town but it’s good enough for basic needs.

The large wooden tables can accommodate four people with laptops – ask for a table with a power point. There’s wiesenhof coffee and a large selection of other beverages on offer, including oudtshoorn’s local beer, karusa. – Phillip Berg

Hoedspruit: madhams art café and food emporium

Shop 12, Rock fig lifestyle centre, Hoedspruit 015 001 7087

The décor is Afro chic with a humorous twist and the crowd is trendy 30- to 50-somethings. It gets quite noisy when full, but offers easy concentration during quiet times.

Wi-fi is fast and free as long as you order something, and plugs are available in the chill lounge area. There’s plenty of space for laptops on the tables, and ample parking too.

They grind puro organic fair trade coffee beans fresh every morning. Try the cappuccino with spices and black pepper.– Bridget Hilton-Barber

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