The pandemic has disrupted the office experience and like so many other sectors, law firms are contending with the ensuing shift to hybrid work. As a result, an industry that has traditionally been slow to adapt to current office trends has been forced to reevaluate their footprint as attorneys and support staff have become increasingly mobile over the past few years. However, the need for space to collaborate with colleagues, host clients, and have privacy to focus on work remains.
It Begins with Understanding Your Space
As the industry looks to adjust their workplace strategy and your organization follows suit, it’s important to understand how your office space is being utilized and how effective it is for your employees. While many people are still going into the office to focus on their work, many firms have also found an increased need for additional collaboration spaces as others are venturing out of their home offices to attend meetings and collaborate with their colleagues within the workplace. But how do you begin to understand what, if any, changes need to be made? Performing a time utilization and activity study by utilizing a software application, such as Observe™, can provide a clear picture of the reality of what spaces are being used, when they are being utilized, and how often. This information combined with, Gensler’s WPIx diagnostic survey that gathers input on work behaviors, space effectiveness, and workplace experience provides a deeper understanding of the overall workplace effectiveness. Once there is a robust understanding of how your space is being used, gaps can be identified, and you can begin planning and adjusting for the future of your firm’s workplace and beyond.
Space is Changing
In response to workplace effectiveness, face-to-face collaboration continues to be a crucial component to an organization’s success, attorneys are no longer confining themselves to enclosed offices. Many firms have already begun renovating their office space to better balance the need for both collaborative spaces and areas to focus on their work. Some law firms have also rolled out “cockpit offices” that are intended to be smaller, more compact spaces designed for just one person and are located in quiet areas of the floor. These smaller offices, paired with additional conference rooms and informal seating areas, provide spaces for focus work along with planned and spontaneous interactions throughout the day.
In 2023, a fluid office experience creates better engagement and a more productive work environment, and you should see how your space evolves to support these changes. With Gensler’s space and occupancy management software, Wisp, monitoring key metrics is as easy as clicking a button to gain a better understanding of what a fluid office experience looks like to your organization.
An Increased Need for Data Management
The adage “time is money” still rings true today and having all the information needed to make an informed decision in one centralized location ensures no time is wasted. Say goodbye to the days of wandering the office counting vacant seats, waiting on others to provide an updated floor plan, or spending hours putting together a report for the partners. With Wisp, you’ll save time by knowing who sits where, how many vacant offices you have, and having the ability to pull numerous reports giving you access to the right information at the right time. Having this data at your fingertips creates transparency and increases awareness of the space you have, how much room you have to grow, and ensures that when leadership reaches out with a question, you can quickly and confidently find the answer.
Honing Your Move Management Process
In 2023, workplace services and facilities teams at law firms are busier than ever thanks to a more fluid workplace. Not only are firms continuously reevaluating their workplace strategy but finding space for their summer associates each spring also presents a unique challenge. To eliminate the clutter and confusion of messy data, utilizing a robust floor plan scenario planning tool can make managing the temporary influx of summer associates much less strenuous than before, allowing workplace services to focus on providing a great first impression when the summer associates set foot in the office.
Aside from the annual ritual of preparing for summer associates, it’s no secret that moving attorneys from one office to another is a balancing act that often requires the support of many teams within the firm. A streamlined move management process can eliminate redundancies and confusion of messy data. Finding a software solution that enables the move process, such as Wisp, is the key to efficiency when it comes to move management. Look for a system that provides automated emails to every impacted team, providing them with clear and concise instructions about what needs to be done to prepare the office and the move so that everything is ready when the attorney walks into their new office.
Hybrid Is Here to Stay
While law firms have historically been resistant to the prospect of hoteling, the pandemic and ensuing return to the office have many law firms at least contemplating what a hoteling model could look like. At the end of the day, a vacant workspace costs the firm just as much as an occupied one. Moving to a hoteling model for support staff or attorneys can alleviate the need to take on additional space as your firm grows. It can also allow you to repurpose offices and workstations into collaboration spaces or new, exciting amenities for staff to take advantage of and entice them to come into the office. Some firms have already found that a hybrid approach is providing them with the option of decreasing their real estate portfolio’s footprint along with related costs. Wisp’s desk reservations and neighborhood management allows people to take ownership of their in-office experience while still allowing facilities and workplace services teams to ensure each team or department has the space they need.
Reshaping the workplace for law firms begins with understanding the space you have, measuring the reality of how it’s used and comparing it to how your employees feel about the space. With the right tools, you can maximize your return on investment of your most valuable assets: People & Space to drive strategic planning decisions with data in the present and for the future.