Ready or not, hybrid work for law firms is here to stay.
In fact, according to research by Forrest Solutions, 90% of the top 400 law firms are executing a “hybrid” workforce return to the office plan. More specifically, 83% of firms’ documented return plans included meeting room management and visitor management
This paradigm shift is no longer a question of "if" but rather "how" law firms will navigate this transition, preserving their brand, culture, and client relationships in the face of profound change.
With a more flexible approach to working schedules, it's important to understand how other law firms are using their office space. That way, you can plan for more effective management of resources and more productive client visits.
We analyzed data from our legal services customers* to paint a better picture of how similar offices are being used. Here’s what we found.
The Changing Face of Legal Work
In 2023, law firms and legal service companies have truly embraced the concept of hybrid work. An impressive 45% of legal professionals now follow a hybrid schedule, up from 32% in 2022. Additionally, the number of full-time, in-office employees has risen from a mere 3% to a substantial 12% during the same period. This shift has reduced the proportion of remote employees from 65% in 2022 to 43% in 2023.
This transition is primarily driven by the unique needs of law firms, which often require in-person collaboration, client meetings, and access to physical space for document management. We expect this trend to persist as more law firms realize the value of in-person interactions.
The Role of Technology in Legal Workspaces
The integration of technology is pivotal in enabling the seamless operation of law firms. Our data reveals that an overwhelming 93% of law firms rely on Microsoft O365. This flexible tool integrates smoothly with Microsoft systems like Outlook and Teams, ensuring a unified technology experience.
A notable 40% of legal professionals prefer a mobile experience, choosing to book spaces and desks via their smartphones. Mobile interfaces are ideal for quick booking and check-ins using QR codes, offering efficiency and convenience.
Optimizing Legal Workspaces: Rooms, Desks and Clients
Within the evolving landscape of law firms, several trends have emerged:
1. Conference & Meeting Room Utilization
Conference room usage has surged from 40 hours per month in early 2022 to 50 hours per month in 2023. On average, offices across other industries have witnessed a growth from 40 hours per month to 70 hours. These workplaces also tend to have double the number of room displays mounted outside of their shared spaces.
Despite this, most law firms have only half as many room displays as the average company. A tip for increasing space usage and capturing more meeting data is to incorporate digital signage in conference and meeting rooms.
2. Client Visits
In 2023, law offices reported a remarkable 260% increase in in-person client visits compared to the previous year. This underscores the significance of having an effective visitor management tool that facilitates and schedules client visits.
3. Desk Usage
The usage of desks has risen from 5 days per month per flex desk in 2022 to 8.5 days in 2023. In simpler terms, most desks are now being used twice a week, up from approximately once a week.
Law firms have successfully adopted consistent hybrid work schedules, meeting the unique need for in-person work while providing flexibility for employees.
Employee Sentiments Towards Office Spaces
Feedback from legal teams reveals that most employees have positive experiences when working in the office. However, a small percentage (2-3%) report negative experiences, often citing issues related to office temperature, noise, and facility/tech problems. This highlights the importance of maintaining open lines of communication with employees.
Streamlining Real Estate Costs in Legal Services
Many law firms have been at the forefront of transitioning to hybrid work, resulting in a ratio of about 5 desks for every 8 employees (a 65% desk-to-people ratio). However, opportunities still exist to reduce space further, as most companies require closer to 5 desks for every 10 employees.
The real space-saving potential lies in reducing conference and meeting rooms. For the average 40-hour workweek, conference rooms are available for approximately 160 hours per month, but most law firms use them for only 50 hours per month. This means the average organization can reduce space by up to 65%.
Understanding office usage is a key factor in optimizing workspace. Each firm has unique needs and use cases, which is why Robin's analytics provide detailed information on the utilization of meeting rooms and desks.
How Robin can Help
With over a decade of experience in the advertising space, Robin is dedicated to helping law firms and legal service organizations manage their physical spaces.
Currently, our team supports law firms and legal service organizations in managing over 100 offices, 200 floors, 400 spaces, and 5,000 desks. Our solutions are designed to create and manage inspiring workspaces that leave a lasting impression on employees and clients alike.
Contact us today to explore how we can do the same for your firm.
* Data sourced from Robin's 40+ law firms and legal services customers.