Trending: The Law Hotel Makes Every Square Foot Count
For more than a decade, professional-services workplaces have been shifting toward open layouts featuring unassigned seating, cafes and lounges, collaborative spaces, and conference rooms. Office design pros use the term “hoteling” to describe this new workplace format. Hot desks are available to anyone in the office; one-to-one conferences take place in scheduled, reserved offices; cafes, lounges, and even open stairways encourage impromptu informational exchanges.
Law firms, always the most conservative of all the professions, have resisted the hoteling trend until quite recently. Partners’ offices are not just a place to work; they are a prestigious symbol of professional success, and high-achieving attorneys are understandably reluctant to forego the honor of a corner office. But as partnerships and practice managers look for reductions in overhead, the cost-saving aspects of hoteling are very appealing.
A recent study by law firm Reed Smith discovered that more than 30% of their professionals and support staff are out of the office at any given time. Empty offices are non-productive space. Hoteling can let firms reduce their real estate footprint to the most productive size. Partners who are offered the choice of a private office or a hoteling set-up may find the new space design has value for their bottom line, especially if alternate prestigious perks are made available.
To make the hoteling space plan work well, practice managers are using adaptive furnishings which transform from solo workstations to conference areas to multi-user hot desks (Swiftspace, for example). Document conversion and high-density shelving systems further reduce unproductive space. With creative design solutions like these, law firms can make the most of their office space.
An added benefit: Hoteling appeals to younger professionals who prefer working in open collaborative spaces. Law firms that adopt a hoteling workstyle can find it easier to recruit the most sought-after new talent.
Business isn’t necessarily done on site in the way it was ten to fifteen years ago, and efficient space utilization is a big part of making billable hours as profitable as possible. While hoteling isn’t the only answer to law practice productivity, it is a substantial factor in the low-overhead equation. It’s definitely worth investigating.
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