Have you stopped to consider the following: how does your firm occupy space today? How does it want to occupy space in the future?
Gone are the days of workplace silos; marked by the knowing vista of closed doors behind which individuals work in corporatised isolation. The modern legal workplace you experience today presents very differently, moving strides ahead to open its four walls to embrace a more collaborative workspace for staff and clients alike.
The next generation of lawyers
With the changing physical makeup of the legal workplace comes a new wave of tech-savvy and team-focused individuals. The next generation are leveraging software and waving goodbye to the focus on administrators to embrace the workload independently. Where support staff previously occupied a great deal of floor space in more traditional law firms, these days you will find less desks and more self-directed workers using technology to replace many of these latent administrative functions.
Room to play with
One of the key reasons for this shift is the latest round of products residing within cloud-based technology. Being located in-the-cloud has afforded a wonderful evolution in the way traditional firms work; by sending a lot of the information typically located in paper-based physical library spaces online. In a nod to the legal firm, being cloud based reduces the need for administrative staff, while freeing up more space on the office floor for communal working.
The end of the corner office
More legal firms are working hard to overthrow hierarchical layouts iconised by the prestige of the corner office. In its replacement, firms are planning their workplace around the team, with flexible, open plan layouts at the core of their new offering. Many have gone one step further to create a completely borderless approach. Fluid workspaces like this lubricate interaction within and among teams for more efficient and effective collaboration, while breeding harmony across business functions.
It’s not just the physical team that is changing the way it interacts. Virtual teams are getting savvier at working across borders, too. Interoperable video conferencing technologies are breaking down isolated ways of working to allow teams to cooperate in real-time within the same virtual space. Broad sectors of the firm are now talking to each other at the click of a button to reduce time and cost delays and improve staff productivity, efficiency and decision making abilities.
Work from home
Through the implementation of digital communications, firms are expanding the possible spaces now accessible to work. Once a distant possibility for a paper-based, desk-driven workplace, working from home is now in the realm of possibility, as is working across myriad time zones and geolocations. This new autonomous way of working lends itself nicely to reduced costs and increased productivity, while increasing the flexibility of the firm to the lifestyle needs of their staff.
A cultured human space
The decision to embrace future technologies is a question of culture as much as anything. With the average partner or associate spending 12 hours plus in the office on any given day, the incentive is there to make it an enjoyable place to work. As a result, firms are planning their new workspaces with the end-user in mind, investing time in research to create a space that staff want to inhabit. This includes the rise of collaborative breakout areas and closed-off café and kitchen areas where staff can experience a literal break from their work, still within the confines of the office space. Legal firms are finding it is in the little things – often at no minor initial investment to their business – that greatly increase staff retention, satisfaction and cultural alignment for the long-term benefit of the business.
Flexibility driving ROI
The effects of the move to more modern, flexible ways or working are profound – both in terms of return on investment and toward the achievement of business outcomes. The impact that flexible, team-focused ways of working have on staff satisfaction and client engagement speaks for itself.
The modern legal firm is transforming for the better, and it’s thanks to technology we welcome the change.