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Alternative Office Design Strategies in Law Firms: Jones Lang LaSalle Takes a Look

06/11/14

Alternative Office Design Strategies in Law Firms: Jones Lang LaSalle Takes a Look


Jones Lang LaSalle came out with a 2014 report this week on law firm office design titled "Perspectives on law firms" and illustrating their report with the case of Baker & McKenzie

as their poster boy. The report talks about the latest trends and best practices in utilizing office spaces in law firms and other issues.

Recapturing underutilized space is a theme stressed on by the report authors and they comment, "firms that adopt the latest available technology and modernized workplace strategy have the potential to recapture underutilized space and even shrink occupancy by more than 15%." This helps law firms to reduce costs and minimize capital expenditure.

Speaking on alternative workplace strategies, the report authors comment that for the first time in history, four generations of workers with differing work styles and needs are sharing common workplaces. So, the pressing need for productive offices is to incorporate multiple types of space design to facilitate the individual work styles of people falling to different generations. This is required regardless of whether an individual works autonomously or in a shared office.

Alternative office spaces embrace many types of work environments ranging from home offices to unassigned visitor spaces and including spaces like retired partner offices, collaboration areas, small enclosed rooms, universal office sizes, modular work stations and so on and so forth.

The report recognizes that despite work teams and collaboration driving client-service models, the traditional one attorney/one windowed office is here to stay. Even though it might be impractical from a cost standpoint it is essential for morale and efficiency in a large number of cases.

While the full renovation of existing space might be impractical in cases considering redoing the entire infrastructure including wiring and utilities, the report stresses "The interior of a law firm's floor plate, however, is another matter ... Due to changing technologies and the alternative work arrangements ... less space is needed than in the past."

Some important suggestions the report makes includes:
  • Employing a combination of demountable partitions and drywall rather than fixed office walls and expensive built-in secretarial workstations
  • Using modular workstations for staff and ergonomic modular casegood furniture for attorneys
  • Creating more small "heads-down" group collaboration areas
  • Investing more in client-facing areas including conference rooms
  • Invest in producing energy savings and "green" features
  • Leveraging new technology including electronic document storage and creating global intranets that facilitate team members to remain connected

One of the most important points of the report is Jones Lang LaSalle's citing statistics from their decades of experimentation in investing in green initiatives. The report mentions that organizations that have renovated their space to include natural daylight experienced 13% to 15% increased productivity, a 25% drop in absenteeism and 69% decline in energy costs. Demonstrated green commitment has also helped law firms in attracting the top candidates for their firms.

You can find Jones Lang LaSalle's report here.

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