The UK’s largest law firms are slimming down on the amount of office space they allocate to each staff member, as agile working sweeps the legal market.
Exclusive research carried out for The Lawyer Workspace Trends 2017 report, released this week, shows that while the total amount of space occupied by UK 200 firms has risen, and the cost of space has also gone up, the average space per person has shrunk by 8 per cent year-on-year.
In 2015/16 the average space per staff member was 187sq ft. Last year this dropped to 172sq ft, with many firms increasing headcount while making no changes to their office space occupancy.
A number of firms have implemented agile or flexible working policies in the last 12 months or are preparing to. Examples include Baker McKenzie, which is now offering agile working to all its staff. The firm is one of six profiled in the report, with all having adopted some level of agile working recently in a bid to use their office space in a more flexible manner.
These firms include Shoosmiths, which plumped for hot desking across the entirety of its new Manchester office when it moved in June, despite cutting down on the amount of space it occupies in the city.
The amount of office space allocated per person ranges within the sample from just 17sq ft for dispersed firm Keystone, up to 297sq ft at London pensions boutique Sackers.
Across the 104 firms which provided data on their office space for the last year, the total occupancy was 7.37 million sq ft with an average occupancy of 70,887sq ft – up from 69,086sq ft in 2015/16. The average cost rose from £2.69m in 2015/16 to £2.97m, an average cost per sq ft of £42.79.