Currently I am still working from home (WFH), and I LOVE IT! I've mentioned before in these forums, how prior to the pandemic I had to endure horrendously long commutes which were horrible for my health and relationships, etc. I won't repeat what I've said before.
However, your questions, Steve, are good ones. Do I want to have a place where I can regularly or periodically work from? A "third place" as you've put it. Yes, but I will make some aspects clear. I do NOT want to return to the office. For all the reasons I've given before, returning to the office is detrimental to my health, my relationships, stress, etc. In 2020 and much of 2021, when lockdown rules went into effect, working in any other place, other than home, for all my colleagues and myself wasn't allowed. From my point of view WFH was orders of magnitude better than working in the office. And I'm one of those fortunate enough to not have to deal with young children. My home is quiet, so I can be more productive WFH, than any day working in the office, where I work in a cubicle farm and must put up with a dozen support people on their phones constantly answering calls, people dropping by to talk to everyone (including myself), etc. I do feel for those of you who have young children, who require your attention. The pandemic must have been rough for you and I'm sure WFH isn't your ideal situation. It is because of this I don't think that WFH is for everyone. But I don't want to say that working in the office exclusively is the only other option.
Now that things are opening more, I would very much like to work at a Starbucks or something similar. However, my employer doesn't allow for any other remote work, other than WFH. I've joined a remote workers group on LinkedIn. About a year ago I asked my new friends in that remote workers LinkedIn group can do to protect sensitive information. I got lots of answers, including just WFH to having screen guards put on your laptop, positioning yourself where no one can see the screen, etc. So, there are ways of handling sensitive information even in a public place. My employer simply didn't think of options.
But Steve, I think you brought up some other considerations, which I want to address. Do I miss interacting with live people? No. That's due to two reasons; the culture of the team I'm on and the expectations of all employees where I work. The team I'm on doesn't "get together" to hash things out, brainstorm, etc. From the beginning we were a distributed team, so "getting together" was a meaningless idea. It just couldn't be done. Even if it could, the dynamics on the team are such that we would collaborate using MS Teams/WebEx/etc. Even if our offices were next door to each other, we would still do all meetings virtually. I'm not saying this approach is right or wrong. It's just this team culture.
Secondly and equally as strong as the first reason, there's an unspoken requirement/expectation of all employees, "to stay in your own lane". For whatever reason, all developers, DBAs, system admins, etc., are perceived as being incapable of having creative thoughts or being able to sympathize with users. That activity is viewed as something only business analysts and similar can do. (As an aside, I have resented this attitude since taking this job. In my previous jobs I really enjoyed meeting with users to discover their issues, talk with them about the problems they were having with the software or database, etc.) All DBAs, devs, etc. must wait until the BAs have had a chance to meet with the users, discern what they think is the issues, then come to the technical staff with what a message that amounts to, "These are the WORDS OF GOD!" Which is kinda hit and miss, as far as addressing what the users need/want. So, due to these two characteristics, I don't have any need to meet with my colleagues or users.
Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.