Open floor plans the way of the future

August 27, 2014
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In an effort to encourage mobility and collaboration and save money, walls are coming down in offices and work spaces are becoming more open.

A U.S. probation office in Chicago is the first in a pilot project of the Integrated Workplace initiative – a federal judiciary program to re-imagine and downsize the traditional office layout. The initiative seeks to cut office space, which in turn cuts rent bills, by using mobile technology.

Instead of having an assigned desk, people are able to use their smartphones, tablets or laptops to work anywhere in an IWI office. This open design will also promote more staff interaction.

The U.S. Courts says after the project is finished in 2015, the Chicago office redesign will reduce office space by 55 percent and save a projected $1.4 million in rent each year.

This same open-concept office is touted as the “law firm of the future,” according to architectural firm Gensler. It created a 5,000-square-foot exhibit as part of the Association of Legal Administrator’s annual conference and expo this past May.

Gensler’s website on the project, www.redesign-law.com, says in the future, legal work will be done differently so the office of the future needs to address these changes. The company believes law firms will need to be faster, more agile, transparent and client focused, and better managed.

“The law office of the future will be smaller, flexible, more collaborative, and technology enabled. It will look more like a business consulting firm than a law firm,” the site says.

The firm touts six key points for the law firm of the future:
-    Less is more – saving space while increasing efficiency;
-    Choice & balance – give employees a choice of where to work within the office;
-    Future proof – making your office today easily adaptable to future work styles;
-    Ubiquitous technology – portable technology is key;
-    Connect the dots – encourage face-to face and virtual engagement;
-    One size does not fit all – make sure to create a strategy that is best for your firm.

Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP principal Sue Kerns in February 2013 also discussed how the company believes the next generation of law firms will look. ZGF’s future law firm also includes collaboration space (and nice, upscale lounges instead of break rooms. Goodbye, plastic chairs and horrible florescent lighting while eating lunch.)

Has your firm or office already gone to the law firm concept of the future? Does this design really work for a profession in which confidentiality is important? If your office is more open, have you seen greater savings in rent and more productivity among staff? 

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  1. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

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  3. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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  5. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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