Two top 100 firms have this week pledged to move away from traditional working methods to embrace ’hot desking’.
DAC Beachcroft started ‘agile working’ two months ago when it moved 300 staff members to a new office in Leeds.
Only ‘static workers’ such as secretaries are assigned a desk. Lawyers pack their belongings into lockers at the end of each working day.
Incoming senior partner Virginia Clegg said the early feedback has been so positive that the firm is ready to expand the system to its offices in the rest of the country.
‘When you look across the floor every desk is clear and there is not a piece of paper in sight,’ she said. ‘You have different divisions of the firm working together and people are talking to someone different every day.’
Eight desks are in place for every 10 people based in the office, after the firm calculated that every desk was used just 70% of the time. Each lawyer is given a code to access phones on different desks and ‘collaborative spaces’ (pictured) are dotted around the office for colleagues who need to work together on any issue.
Clegg, who works standing up at a platform, said the key to convincing staff of the merits of agile working was in the preparation before the move.
‘Lawyers like evidence so we provided them with evidence they didn’t need a desk,’ she said. She also confirmed that clients, particularly those in real estate, have visited the office to see the merits of the new methods.
Meanwhile, London firm Wedlake Bell has stated its commitment to agile working to improve the effectiveness and flexibility of its service.
Managing partner Martin Arnold said: ‘The use of technology and the flexible working practices that it enables are vital. Agile working is something that is not only possible but essential for a full service law firm that is seeking to achieve the highest level of service integration.’
He added the firm is ‘exploring opportunities’ that will almost certainly result a move away from ‘restrictions imposed by the cellular office environment’.