2018’s Biggest Trends in Law Firm Office Spaces
Many small businesses are moving from traditional office spaces to coworking spaces. For small professional service firms with one to five employees, the move saves them from committing a significant amount of their revenue to monthly rent for a private space.
Are law firms following suit? Let’s take a look at the biggest trends in legal industry workspaces for 2018.
Office Size Reduction
It would appear lawyers are growing past the idea of the large corner office.
According to Champaign Williams of Bisnow.com, a major trend in law firm office space is downsizing. Smaller office sizes allow firms to reduce their rent and focus more resources toward creating a more flexible, amenity-rich workspace — something industry leaders believe appeals to young professionals. Lower operational costs and the ability to standardize all furniture in the workspace also becomes easier when square footage is reduced. Firms are beginning to do away with seniority-based individual office spaces, as well, opting instead to provide a standardized workspace for employees of all rank and tenure.
Firms aren’t simply reducing the sizes of their offices — they’re moving to new ones, too. Shared coworking spaces are fulfilling the need for reduced space and amenity-rich environments. Despite what appears to be a less committal trend in office space, lease terms and length aren’t predicted to change, making it clear that the trend isn’t just a phase.
Firms are now considering the future more now than ever. As the workforce begins to change and skew towards millennials, it’s important to think about what they will want in an office. CBRE Vice Chairman and National Law Firm Broker Stephen Bay explains the thinking:
“They’re looking at it saying, ‘I’m [going to] be here until 2035 — what is my firm going to look like then?’ … That’s where the future-proofing comes in. By 2030, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. How are they going to want to work and are they going to want the same senior partner office or will they be more willing to work in an open environment?”
As you may have noticed, law firms are making decisions based on their perceptions of what young lawyers prefer. The reason? There’s a shortage of young talent entering the legal industry. With other industries competing over the same talent and baby boomers heading toward retirement, the legal workforce has encountered trouble finding talented successors.
Law firms are trying to appeal to the new generation of lawyers by following the trend of open, collaborative office design which promotes the sharing of knowledge among employees. Coworking spaces find themselves in a position to be a strong match for small law firms looking to win over younger talent.
Maximizing Opportunities for Remote Collaboration
In addition to thinking about how future employees will want to work, firms are actively considering how technology will upend workplace design in the next 10 to 20 years, and how their offices will remain competitive.
Remote collaboration and online sharing technology have allowed for the rise of the remote lawyer. Scott Ashley from Workdesign.com explains that employees desire a mobile environment to fulfill their functions in a space that supports their need for flexibility. New technological developments make mobility possible, thanks to tools like virtual law libraries, laptops, and smartphones. Making sure these items are provided as primary tools to employees has become critical for fulfilling their needs — and ensuring they stay productive.
With shared resource libraries that can be accessed remotely and in the office, collaboration between lawyers has become easier than ever. As Ashley puts it, the most forward-thinking law firms offer work setting choices — an optimal mix of space that includes areas for focused work as well as collaborative settings for socialization. Offices are being designed to take advantage of collaboration by creating casual areas that support work groups and impromptu encounters.
Is it time for your law office to change spaces? Avenue Business Center offers a lawyer-friendly coworking space that provides a more traditional office experience than typical coworking spaces. We even offer private offices for client discretion.