Navigating the Return to Office

Law Firms Post-Pandemic

While many business sectors seemingly settled into remote work models for the long term, three years removed from the height of the pandemic, there’s increasing evidence the pendulum is shifting to favor a much broader return to office (RTO) than previously expected. Last month, Resume Builder released a report indicating a staggering 90% of businesses will return to their offices by 2024. It’s easy to understand why, considering 72% of the 1,000 companies polled confirmed that ongoing RTO efforts have already led to increased revenue. Updated policies from major firms point to the urgency of the matter: Google amended its hybrid model earlier this summer to note in-office attendance will be tracked via badge use and accounted into performance reviews; Goldman Sachs was more straightforward when it ended “Summer Fridays” last month and re-committed to five days a week in office.

It’s important to look at prevailing numbers with some historical context. Findings released in August by Revelio Labs and Lightcast showed that while fully remote opportunities have climbed nationwide to 6.9M, some 4.0M of those jobs have existed for more than twenty years. That increase has occurred over two decades of technological innovation; it isn’t a direct indictment of the post-pandemic office market. The more relevant metric from the same study is the tripling of hybrid opportunities from the onset in 2019 to the height of the pandemic — big numbers, but all of these jobs still rely on the office to facilitate productivity.

Source: Revelio Labs; Lightcast; US Census Bureau

Ultimately, the right solution for your business is entirely dependent on company culture. Businesses will certainly want to realize the increased productivity and revenue of bringing workers back to the office, but employees need to be brought into a workspace that works for them. A recent RTO survey from staffing agency Forrest Solutions indicated 87.5% of the Am Law 100 and 200 firms polled have made at least one change to their space in an effort to entice workers back to the office. From redesigning their space to introducing new amenities, firms focusing on quality-of-life improvements for staff have seen an 18% increase in days in office, which translates to five additional business weeks spent together in person.

More than half of those law firms have already implemented reservation systems for shared desks. With desk allocation largely tied to attendance history rather than seniority, it’s clear early adoption could benefit employees where policies are currently in flux. The same study indicated these solutions increased time spent in office 30 days per year, or six business weeks. The hoteling system aims to optimize space and maintain the firm’s culture while complementing changing work habits, but it too is a concept that predates the pandemic by many decades. Flexible workstations gained popularity as early as the 1960s, allowing part-time office users the resources they required without shouldering the capital expense of permanent space. Just as the real estate industry is cyclical in nature, so too are many of its trends.

An experienced tenant representative is well positioned to assist in reassessing your space needs or rightsizing your footprint to make the most of your office. We focus our strategy on the specific operational and financial objectives of our clients to quantify real estate requirements, determine the positives and negatives of available options, and analyze the financial implications involved. To hear Managing Partner Chris Pickett discuss how Bradford Allen helped consolidate offices for Chicago-based law firm Lindsay, Pickett & Postel, watch our client success story. Achieve impactful results for your business and consider contacting our experienced brokers today.

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