By Kim Rousseau, Principal of Interior Design at Cooper Carry
The desires and expectations of employees have changed rapidly throughout the last decade, making it both vital and challenging to pinpoint what they deem important in a workplace environment. Today’s business “buzz” focuses on cross-functionality, emotional intelligence, innovation, and networking. Addressing employee needs not only benefits employee recruitment, retention, and loyalty, but it can also improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
Law firms are beginning to recognize that they need to pay attention to the workplace. The traditional notion of a space layout and design is not appealing to this new generation, yet there are many deeply embedded customs, cultures and ideas, as well as functional considerations that do not allow for the revolutionary workplace design. However, like corporations, law firms are experiencing staff reductions and pressures to occupy less space in order to control real estate costs. The process of enacting strategies at a law firm is not the same as for a corporate user. This is not a top-down change management endeavor. It is a discovery and buy-in process.
The workplace strategic process can be used to help law firms find the right balance for their office design. The first step of the process is important: establish the process with the Managing Partner and discuss desired outcomes. Next, listen to what everyone has to say. During this discovery phase, uncover the important needs and goals of the attorneys, while capturing the functional information of the staff. In the end, everyone has had a chance to contribute; and the information received in multiple ways helps define what is important to that office.
The resultant four to six drivers or guiding principles, give the team points to focus on with the layout and design of the new office. For example, privacy is a common issue for law firms. The team should endeavor through the project to check major decisions against the need for privacy.
The strategy process is an evolution of traditional programming. As time for projects becomes compressed, focus to the preliminary phase of discovering and understanding a law firm is important to the success of their future design.
Kim Rousseau has over 20 years of professional experience in interior design and project management, specializing in commercial office interiors. Kim leads a strong team of designers at Cooper Carry dedicated to great design achievements, which fundamentally begin with establishing strong communication with clients, understanding their needs, and formulating the solution tailored to the project’s objectives. With active memberships in IIDA, CREW and CoreNet, Kim believes it is important to advance knowledge and share Best Practices of design within the real estate community.
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