Workspace strategy has jumped to the top of the agenda as legal services providers battle to attract and keep top talent, The Lawyer’s UK 200: Workspace Trends 2016 report has found.
The report, published today, is the most extensive review of the UK legal market’s property related costs and trends ever produced.
It highlights how a growing number of UK firms have radically overhauled their offices or moved to new purpose-built premises in a bid to appeal to the next generation of lawyers and business services professionals.
At the same time several firms have reduced the total square footage they control, with a corresponding reduction in cost, as their workspace environments become more efficient in generating revenue.
DWF, for example, now controls less office space in London and Glasgow but according to its director of facilities and property Karl Warmbold, has seen an uptick in productivity in both locations.
The total space DWF now utilises in Glasgow has reduced from 32,000sq ft to 18,000sq ft while in London, where DWF previously operated out of two buildings, total space has reduced from 52,000 sq ft to 43,000 sq ft.
Warmbold said that the flexibility built into both offices’ seating arrangements, particularly in relation to specific teams, had resulted in increased efficiency.
“We recognise that teams often need to be together but the whole team doesn’t necessarily need to sit together all of the time,” said Warmbold. “So if you have a team of eight we may allocate them a set of four desks on a permanent basis. But you also have to build in the flexibility in case the whole team is in on any given day so that they can still be connected to their team.”
The impact on desk utilisation has been dramatic, claimed Warmbold.
“In our London office the rate is in the high 80s or early 90s,” he added. This is compared to the total London market benchmark, which is around 65 per cent utilisation per desk.
This year’s UK 200 report contains workspace insights from a wide range of UK firms including Bird & Bird, Fieldfisher and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, along with US firms such as Ropes & Gray, and barristers’ sets such as Atkin Chambers.
The data confirms the trend for firms to reduce the amount of space they control while at the same time modernising the office environment to become more efficient.
“Yes, cost is still a driver but the biggest issue for many firms is workspace strategy and specifically how to make their offices ‘future proof’ in the context of the lawyer of tomorrow,” said Alexander Low, head of legal services sector at JLL, the sponsor of the report.
“There’s no doubt that this has gone up the agenda at many firms over the past 18 months. Every single major organisation is focusing on their workplace and specifically looking at ways of enabling their people to work in a different way.”
The full report includes benchmarking data from 105 firms with a combined fee income of £4.4bn that are spending over £258m on 7 million square feet of offices in the UK.
To purchase the UK 200: Workspace Trends 2016 report contact Richard Edwards on 0207 970 4672 or at email@example.com