With the advances of technology and the changes in the way lawyers work, law firm office space design is being more closely evaluated to determine how efficiently & effectively their leased office space is being used. When contemplating an office move, lease renewal, or if searching for office space for the first time law firms must consider how much space they really need and how they will use it. As you prepare your next move below are a few things to think about that could possibly save you money and operate more efficiently.
- Hire an architect or space planner. They can do a test fit for you based on your needs so you don't lease too much space. They can also plugin the floor plan of the space you like and make sure it works for you.
- Consider relocating your Admin. Consider relocating your administrative or back office functions offsite to alternative office space. Some of the benefits of doing this might be free parking, free after hours hvac, more people allowed per sf, lower occupancy costs, lower employment costs, lower taxes, and in some cases depending on your size and location government subsidies.
- Get rid of office service redundancies. Things such as law libraries, accounting departments, marketing, HR, etc can all be centralized.
- Reduce your square footage. Consider having junior associates double up and/or office in interior offices. Partners might consider a smaller office as opposed to the average of 275 sf.
- Use of moveable and modular walls, partitions, and furniture. With the advances in furniture and modular technology some companies are forgoing traditional buildouts and installing modular walls and partitions. This enables them reconfigure rooms in a way that allows the rooms to have multiple uses.
- Make interior offices more desirable. Add more windows and side lights to interior rooms to give less desirable areas more sunlight.
- Invest in technology. People have changed how they work and like flexibility. Provide the technology necessary to allow off-site and after-hours work.
- Consider outsourcing. Services such as computer help desks, accounting, legal support, mail delivery, etc. can be outsourced which will free up needed space.
- Design for current and future needs. Design your space in a way that makes it easy to expand and contract when needed. For potential subletting you want to ensure that the space can be efficiently and economically subdivided and made attractive for the largest number of people.
The way in which companies use office space now is not unique to law firms. The shift towards efficient office space is an evolution that has evolved over the last 5-10 years. For many law firms to remain competitive it's important that they consider more a more efficient strategy as they make short and long term commercial real estate decisions. A law firms largest expense will typically be their office space lease, well maybe 2nd to their salaries.