One of the biggest challenges workplace leaders and facilities managers face is that their work is never done. Not to say they don't complete projects or solve problems, but the world of work is ever evolving, and spaces need to constantly be flexing with the changing needs of the workforce. I sat down with Rachel Casanova, Bill Dowzer and Joseph Geierman to discuss how, specifically, workplace leaders are creating spaces that adapt in law firms and how every facility leader can take note of what's been working and apply it to their own space.
Workplace Strategy & Design For Professional Services & Law Firms
Rachel Casanova | Senior Managing Director for Workplace Innovation for Cushman & Wakefield
Bill Dowzer | Principal at BVN Architecture
"I think the challenge is to create a long-term, operational-focused conversation."
"Moving away definitely from the idea of set-and-forget, or that a project is finished. You've got to imagine that the space is alive for the whole period of your occupation."
Both Rachel and Bill definitely understand the unique needs of law firms when it comes to workplace design and culture change. In both of their lines of work, they focus on the workplace experience, organizational culture and innovation - in the often traditional environment of law. Both Rachel and Bill explain during the podcast that no matter what industry you're in, one size does not fit all, and workplace leaders must seek to empower people to make choices to work in different ways while still coming together to collaborate. Attracting and retaining top talent at law firms is a priority, so Rachel and Bill explore how designing an architectural environment with transparency can create opportunities, impact culture, and drive behaviors that bring people together!
As workplace leaders some of the challenges Rachel and Bill are facing are they're trying to bring people together, and how can they create an effective environment that "empowers people to be able to make choices to work in different ways." When it comes to law firms in particular, collaboration isn't just "group think" but it's how professionals come together to solve challenges, and they need space to do that. How lawyers and most workplace professionals do that has changed dramatically. As workplace leaders for law firms or any professional environment, it's our job to understand how people want to work and give them the tools they need do work in that way.
We also touch on a key reminder that even if you perfect the strategy now, it's impossible to make that last. You have to create spaces that can grow and flex with the changing needs of your workforce. Like Bill said, you almost have to imagine that the "space is alive" and continually adjust plans to keep it running at its optimal level.
Flexible Design Considerations & Workplace Strategies For Law Firms
Joseph Geierman | Director of Real Estate and Facilities, Troutman Sanders
"Flexibility is something that we're really keen on, because we aren't sure what the business of law is going to look like in a few years. Having a way to have more flexible law firm space as far as lease terms go is going to be important and we're still struggling towards that."
As the Director of Real Estate and Facilities at Troutman Sanders in Atlanta, Joseph uses real estate as a tool to shape culture and productivity in the workplace. He recently led Troutman Sanders through the process of building a new headquarters, one that needed to meet multiple needs.
Joseph talks about the biggest driving factor while building their new headquarters was flexibility. They needed flexibility to grow and move people around without having to take on more space, the flexibility to use the same space for multiple functions. The process of building that into the design was a guiding principal throughout the process. They were so successful, in fact, their new building used less square footage than the original because it used space more efficiently and for more than one purpose. Joseph mentions that hopefully the firm continues to grow, but no one can predict the future, so he and his team created a space that met their needs now, but could be adjusted later on as necessary.
What has made their new headquarters successful was the inclusion of:
- multiple video conferences
- workplace technology
- adjustable height desks
- ability to add more displays in rooms
- communicating changes to the workforce
- making people feel part of the change process
When looking towards the future, Joseph is most excited about the idea of creating spaces that could be home for multiple types of companies, essentially removing the need for long-term leases. He understands that a work environment should never look the exact same as it did even a few years prior, and with technology advancing at the rate that it is, the office could look a lot different than today. But if we prepare for that possible change now, it won't be nearly as difficult to adjust down the road.
While a workplace leaders' job may never be done, we certainly can take steps today to make it easier to adjust the work environment tomorrow. And while we can't predict the future, we're sure it's going to be great.