+44 (0) 1727 843820 paul@impro.org.uk

It’s fascinating to explore trends, and in my most recent Inspirational Facilitator course we discussed ‘What’s going on now for facilitators?

Quite a lot, actually, it turns out. And what struck us as perhaps the most noticeable of the trends coming out of the pandemic was an adjustment: First the loss and then the restoration of what’s been called ‘the third space’.

What is the ‘third space’?
Third space’ is a catchy title that’s been used for several different concepts. Here we were talking about that semi-public or semi-formal space that’s neither the office nor the private home. Starbucks built its empire by providing attractive third spaces, as have co-working initiatives and libraries. You also find it at conferences between sessions and in office canteens and corridors.

Notably these all suddenly disappeared with lockdowns. And while online formats quickly replaced much of our face-to-face business conduct, it’s been less successful at nurturing third space connections.

Now we are returning to in-person events and negotiating going back to the office. Discussions on how much we can work from home, what merits travel time, and what’s best to do in each space will reverberate for years.

Less noticed in a polarised debate, but highly pertinent for facilitators, is the value of 3rd space opportunity, which may hold the clues to making sense of what we’ll keep in our new normals.

For example, the Applied Improvisation Network has opted to create virtual conferences between in-person global gatherings. We want to keep the low-cost easy-access of online presentations, but realised that the enjoyment of the third space interactions in the live conference in Spain was at least as important as the formal sessions.

It’s those social, informal, emergent and improvised aspects that make the difference.

How are your third spaces shaping up?

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