What Does Your Office Say About Your Firm?
Throughout history, there has been very little investment or trend analysis into office space, work environments or customer interfacing areas; the office is simply the functional place where administration is conducted, and paperwork pushed, and the reception area is simply an area where the fee payer waits. There is very little recognition, within the legal industry, that the waiting area is the shop window, the first impression and the opinion setter, “the client is in the front door, so they must have already decided to employ you”, right? The bizarre juxtaposition of this is there have been countless studies into manufacturing, technology and production environments, into the set-up and layout of plants, factories and laboratories, but, the office has always been the room(s) where processing is conducted.
In recent years, there has been an awakening in the recognition of the importance that the first impression counts and what the office plays within a business; the days of faded waiting room sofa’s and 3 year old industry magazines have gone, along with the wobbly desk in a corner or a grotty chair with a loose wheel and a broken arm rest, and thankfully, so have the attitudes that this is the norm. This obsolete thought process has been replaced by a reinforced mindset that the customer should be wowed by reception and attractive waiting areas, and that meeting rooms that are bright and airy create the right impression. Suddenly, success isn’t a dirty word within the legal sector, recent times are about saying to the client “look at the area we have created for you, to wait for me, we are doing well, we are the right choice for you, just look around”.
I have been lucky enough to have spent a lot of time in different types of legal practices (for the right reasons, I will add), attended lots of seminars and been on a variety of courses and the legal industry, is still playing catch-up when it comes to modern office space, whilst the rest of the world is embracing agile working, technology integration, collaborative workspace and furnishings within flexible offices, most legal practices are still behind the times. I have also been lucky enough to have spent time outside of the legal industry and have witnessed, first-hand, the impact that modern office space has on an office, boosting morale, performance and making the humble office worker feel like they are more than a tool. Modern office space isn’t about the young, modern workforce, the modern workspace is about recognising that, given a choice, most employees would prefer to work from a coffee shop, the couch or the dining room table than the dull, uninspiring office, so why not embrace that? The modern office provides the opportunity to encourage employees and colleagues to unshackle themselves from the desk, to gather in clusters and collectives, to talk and discuss, openly, as they would in a coffee shop. The modern working environment is one that provides the ability for people to find a space to concentrate and reflect when needed, the modern office space is about encouraging greatness, inspiring clients and investing in staff atmosphere, where they spend a third of their life. The legal industry simply isn’t stuffy anymore.