In recent years, the legal industry, like many others, has experienced a significant shift in how the workspace functions.
Some of this was due to the COVID-19 pandemic which enforced remote working, democratised meetings by video-conference, and accelerated alternative ways of working.
One consequence of a hybrid workforce? Your offices are now likely to be too big, and too empty.
As a result, many law firms are choosing to downsize, optimising a smaller space for both a remote team and clientele.
So, how exactly can you optimise your law firm office design, and what steps should you take to ensure you’re getting the most out of your space? In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know, including the top three trends that are influencing the modern law office.
The cadence of meetings has changed since the pandemic, there’s no escaping it.
Many law firms are reporting significantly less client visits, but a noticeable uptick in the overall number of meetings. Your office design needs to recognise this by building in more video call rooms, and cutting down on the number (if any) boardrooms.
While the industry has a reputation of working in the past, the time to modernise is now.
There are a few key ways that you can improve your firm’s office design.
As a first step, we highly recommend carrying out a workplace study. This process gathers the granular data on how work happens, where it happens, and what tools are needed. It is also a good forum to talk with your team, gathering honest opinions on:
All of this allows you to ensure that any changes to your space are evidence based, not a guess, or worse – based on previous layouts.
While we could spend hours talking about generic design improvements you could make, there are a few standout trends that are proving incredibly successful for firms across the UK.
Bigger does not necessarily mean better, especially when it comes to your office space.
Significantly less square footage may be required due to a fluctuating headcount, and the main priority has shifted instead to optimising the potential of your available space.
With remote workers and fewer face-to-face client meetings, the function of your space has changed, focusing more on flexible, client-centred engagement.
As stated in Clio’s 2021 Legal Trends Report, 79% of clients view remote communication as an important factor when choosing who to hire, with particular preference for video conferencing.
For some clients, the view they see of you and your office space from their screen is the only impression they will get of your business. You might not need expansive boardrooms, but instead may choose to build a smaller ‘Zoom room’ where your team can meet with clients.
While it’s necessary for these rooms to be practical, they must also be attractive, representing the best of your business.
In addition to this, it’s time to ditch the individual office spaces. Large individual offices are an inefficient use of space, and often block out natural light from your building. The space would likely be much better used as light-filled shared spaces, encouraging collaboration amongst your team.
Speaking about collaboration, your younger staff are the future of your business. They’re significantly more likely to want to work in the office as they have a lot to learn.
You want to ensure that the valued members of your team are not tempted to move onto greener pastures because they have become dissatisfied with a stifling work environment, a lack of communication or slow progression.
Design break-out spaces that allow your partners or barristers to mix in with the juniors. This facilitates natural, more informal conversations (which is where most real learning is done!).
See the above example of a communal break-out space; one that brings people together and encourages organic conversation.
Not only this, but losing talent is expensive. Why go through all the hassle and expense of the recruitment process when a stunning, functional office space can significantly reduce the chance that your employees will want to leave?
Office spaces should be a pleasure to work in, and younger employees have significantly higher standards for what an office space should look and feel like. Efficient and attractive design has been proven to lead to an improvement in employee wellbeing, and has a direct correlation with productivity.
Remote working and reduced face-to-face meetings with clients means that work practices are now heavily reliant on technology. Evidence suggests that firms who are capable of providing technological solutions to client engagement lead to higher annual revenue growth in comparison to other law firms.
Your Wi-Fi and data transfer need to be best in class (diving under a table to grab a HDMI has never been a good look!). This means that your meeting rooms need to be designed around technology, not the other way around.
The technological landscape is forever changing, which has led to another element of law office design changing: file storage.
Digitalisation has made legal libraries obsolete, meaning that extensive storage space for physical files is no longer required and the space can be repurposed.
Undergoing the office design & build or fit out and refurbishment process is a big ask for any firm; there’s a large amount of money involved, so it’s natural that you may be reluctant to change, or are struggling to trust many of the promises you’re being given.
The truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to office design. This is especially true for your firm, as you have distinct requirements that absolutely must be met.
If you’re considering an office redesign, but aren’t sure where to start, talk to our team at Rhino Interiors. We’re available to answer any questions you may have, and to provide bespoke advice on how best you can modernise your firm’s office to boost performance & improve wellbeing across the board.
If you have a question, if you are looking for some bespoke advice, get in touch with our experts today, we’d love to hear about your project.
For a no-obligation chat about your office needs, complete the form below and one of our specialists will be in touch.