Hudson Kingston is a litigation and policy attorney for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) – an organization that protects the environment in partnership with current and former public employees. Hudson lives outside of Ely where the internet is not always reliable enough to keep up with his remote work needs. So he coordinated with his employer to cover the cost of an annual membership to Society Hall Workspace.
“Generally speaking, I can do 95% of my work from home, but I don’t want to do that. Having worked from home exclusively during pandemic-related closures, I realized the high likelihood of burnout if I don't have another place to go, another place to be. This is my second place.” With this, in a world where work-from-home is permanent, Hudson is making a reference to the concept of the “third place."
The third place refers to the social environments beyond the two usual social spaces of home ("first place") and the workplace ("second place"). Third places include coffee shops, clubs, public libraries, parks, churches, and so on. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg coined the phrase, and is known for promoting the importance of public gathering places to the proper functioning of a civil society and to democracy. He argues that third places are vital for establishing a sense of place.
“The ability to drive a short distance to a place that is designated as a workspace, allows for meaningful breaks in your day, which helps you to reset. When you are getting work done at a co-working space, and then you leave, you know your work day is done. Otherwise, chronically being 20 steps away from my work computer at home gets to be too close.”
There are other challenges with working from home. Hudson tells me about the day the power went out at his house overnight during a June storm and the next morning he could neither “make caffeine” nor use the internet. He went to Society Hall Workspace to solve both problems.
“I think it’s a welcoming and useful asset to have in town. When I realized I could get a membership that allows me to drop in as needed, it simplified the whole question of membership. I don’t have to worry about ‘getting my money’s worth’ with a day pass, and can simply use this space as needed. It’s comforting to have a place where I know there’s a spot for me.”
The ability to go downstairs to check out the hustle and bustle of coffee shop and wine bar activity can be refreshing, and can lead to organic networking opportunities. You never know who you’ll run into downstairs, or what new person you’ll meet! In this way Hudson’s “second place” seamlessly transitions to a bona fide “third place” – a place of regular, informal gatherings.
Hudson acknowledged that getting a year-long Society Hall Workspace membership was a way to challenge himself to become more a part of a community. Indeed, the fact that Society Hall Workspace is managed by both a local business and a nonprofit oriented towards fostering community is ultimately what motivated him to join without hesitation. “When your professional life is doable entirely online, the more touch points you have with the community, the better.”