UK Law Firms Struggle to Provide Office Space for Growing Staffs

November 12, 2017 The Lawyer Workspace Trends 2017 report released exclusive research this week, showing that although UK 200 firms have as a whole expanded office space in past year, they haven’t been able to keep up with the even greater increase in staff. Due to the spike in the cost of space, the average space per person has dwindled by 8 percent.

The average space per staff member in 2015/16 was 187sq ft. This number fell to 172sq ft last year, which can largely be attributed to the decision of many firms to increase hires without adding any space to their offices.

One way of compensating for the lack of space is an implementation of agile working policies. Many firms have set these policies in place, while others are preparing to. Of the six firms profiled in the report, all of them have adopted an agile working policy, of varying levels, in order to maximize the efficiency of their space.

Baker & McKenzie, for example, now offers agile working to every member of its staff. Shoosmiths opted to implement hot desking in its new Manchester office. The new off has even less space, causing the firm to turn to creative solutions to give each staff member space.

Of the firms involved in the research, Keystone came up with lowest amount of space allocated per person, with just 17sq ft, whereas London-based pensions boutique Sackers sits at the other end of the spectrum with 297sq ft per person.

With data received from 104 firms, the total occupancy was found to be 7.37 million sq ft, the average occupancy being 70,887sq ft. This indicates a bump up from the 69,086sq ft in 2015/16. There was also a rise in cost, from £2.69m in 2015/16 to £2.97m, with the average cost being £42.79 per sq ft.

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