To achieve the true potential of activity based working, the approach must be finely tuned to the business and the people within it. Until recently, law firms have been lagging behind most other industries in the strategic use of space, in part because of some significant constraints on how legal spaces operate: confidentiality, status, the difficulty of eliminating paper and the fact that quiet working still represents the majority of most lawyer’s time have all impacted the development of legal workplace design.
King & Wood Mallesons has adopted a considered approach to activity based working within their new Perth office by Geyer to ensure the space supports the organisation's strategic direction and desired culture. King & Wood Mallesons' new workplace supports flexible working by providing spaces for introverted and extroverted tasks. The ability to orchestrate privacy and confidentiality and coordinate noise and distraction were critical factors in the development of the workplace strategy by Geyer. The workplace also allows for personalisation of space, shared access to natural light, effective and accessible storage, and the integration of mobile working technology.
While technology has vastly improved the passive sharing of knowledge, it has reduced opportunities for interaction. Precedent systems, intranets and email mean there is less need to talk to someone else to get information. This is not a bad thing as it takes less time, and everyone is more effective and efficient, but it reduces the opportunity for sharing of tacit knowledge where deeper learning and skill-building occurs and reduces the opportunity for relationship building that become the foundation of future knowledge exchange.
By adopting an open and flexible work floor where senior King & Wood Mallesons staff are physically accessible, the organisation is able to foster knowledge sharing and collaborative working. This strategy also assists King & Wood Mallesons attract and retain the best talent through visible leadership.
Law firms are under tremendous pressure and are going through significant change. At times like these, firms need to use every tool, every weapon in their arsenal to set their firm apart. Space is a tool that is often neglected, but can be a powerful lever to drive strategy and cultural change.
King & Wood Mallesons and Geyer developed a rigorous change management strategy to ensure the new workplace and work styles were positively received across the firm. King & Wood Mallesons initiated this process early on in the project with all senior partners voting on the move from a traditional environment to a contemporary, flexible workspace that supports collaboration, knowledge sharing, and transparency.