For years, we’ve seen trendy technologies start-ups, like Google and Uber, and co-working entities change and shape the design of the workplace. Today professional service provider firms for law, finance, tax, and accounting – are also transforming their workplaces and organizational cultures to operate more like their progressive counterparts. These traditional companies are finding value in adopting a transformative approach to office design. Law firms, in particular, are starting to adapt to the design of their offices to adjust to new trends in the profession.
With the dynamic mix of generations in the workforce and the advent of new technologies, the way people work has drastically changed. Law firms should now require a space that allows for both balanced teamwork and focused work and provides the opportunity for continuous learning, even though the traditional one person office for lawyers seems to maintain as a holy grail.
There are several key trends currently impacting the legal profession. When included in space’s design, they help to improve a firm’s performance and enable organizations to attract, excite, and retain exceptional people.
Envolving technologies coupled with the new economic realities have led law firms to re-imagine the type and quality of space they need. Changing client perceptions about legal services has encouraged law firms to take a critical eye to their real estate needs, often reducing their rentable space while maintaining attorney counts. The need to host clients in a luxurious office has been replaced with a clean, modern aesthetic that communicates success in a smart, savvy manner. Using space efficiently will become increasingly, important to maximize company assets while offering flexible environments that meet the needs of permanent office inhabitants and mobile workers alike.
With new technologies come changes in where and how employees work. Remote collaboration and online sharing of resources and services are now commonplace. Further law firms love to stay on top of the latest legal tech developments for document storing, accounting, electronic discovery but last but not least important practice of law. Offering the right workplace today is critical to attaching and retaining talent, as the new “knowledge worker” is not impacted just for the location. Employees desire a mobile environment to fulfill their functions in a space that supports their need for flexibility. New technological developments make mobility possible, thanks to tools like virtual law libraries, CRM, laptops, and smartphones. Making sure these items are provided as primary tools to employees has become critical for fulling their needs – and ensuring they stay productive.
The most forward-thinking law firms offer work setting choices – an optimal mix of space that includes areas for focused work as well as collaborative settings for socialization. Today’s work environments support smaller communities and smaller work groups, as well as alternative workspaces such as benching, mobile and community zones. Even hoteling, a concept that designates areas that employees can call ahead and reserve for a day of work, and free address options that typically allow workers to choose their desks for a particular day or even a portion of the day. Offering these types of spaces also allow for the office to become an actual private space, enabling focus work without distraction.
Technology affords attorneys the ability to work anywhere at any time, leading to on-demand collaboration between employees. Creating casual areas that support impromptu encounters – like the traditional coffee machines or open kitchen, space for smaller workgroups and virtual work is critical. The strategy and design behind collaboration areas are essential for any successful business.
Law firms are considering the overall experience of their workspace for both clients and employees. When well positioned in the physical space, a firm’s identity has a positive impact on client impressions, talent attraction and retention, and employee experience. The firm’s brand touches each of these stakeholders and can be a powerful tool to reinforce organizational philosophies – business culture, social and environmental. The experience of each user – customer and employee – is optimized by tightly integrating a firm’s identity and experience into the workspace design.
Today’s progressive law firms are embracing transparency as an important way to support a more open and inclusive work environment, and also to reinforce the firm’s culture and organizational structure. Elements like glass-fronted offices and conference rooms encourage natural light to seep into dark workspaces, plus help to remove barriers to knowledge share, mentoring of associates and broader communication of firm goals, fostering new opportunities and insight.
It’s important to understand how a law firm functions so the design of its spaces can be utilized to support its unique needs. Workplaces should be agile to allow for the integration of new design and tech trends as well as to adapt to the ever-changing demands and requirements of the company and its employees. Simply put, implementing the right design and tech trends into a law office can create an organizational advantage.
Chicago: Disrupting The Boundaries Of Workplace Design | Strategy http://www.vocon.com/news/disrupting-the-boundaries-of-workplace-design-in-the-l (accessed March 20, 2 | Credits: Withers LLP, London, UK, Interior Designer: KKS | Credits: Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner Offices, Hong Kong, Interior Designer: Circa ia