Better workspaces could unlock greater productivity for firms: Report

New Zealand law firms could improve productivity by modernising their office space, a new survey has found.

New Zealand law firms could improve productivity by modernising their office space, a new survey has found.

The CBRE report, New Zealand Office Occupier Major Report, found that while law firms generally occupy better quality space, many firms could further improve their workspaces, potentially resulting in higher productivity. 

Unassigned seating, areas for collaborative work, quiet zones and private calling rooms are among the survey’s suggestions for a modernised workspace.  While firms in Auckland have had success with modernised office spaces, Zoltan Moricz, senior director of New Zealand research at CBRE, said it is important that firms properly consider the workspace for their employees.  What works for one firm, may not work for another.

“It comes down to understanding in detail what the work entails for individual employees and different groups of employees and designing work spaces around that,” he said.  “Work spaces that allow greater communication, greater collaboration and that might be appropriate in certain environments for legal work and might not be appropriate for others.”

Moricz said that for a modern workspace to function efficiently, it takes more than just new furniture.  He believes firms need to make a cultural change, as well as providing an appropriate workspace for staff.
“The change has to be a cultural change, not just change in terms of the way the fit out works or where the desks are located.  In our experience, that change is only part of the story, it has to be accompanied by organisational change and cultural change in the organisation in order to unlock that productivity benefit,” he said.

The report found that the modernised workspaces with open plan layouts or less offices in many cases, resulted in the reduced the amount of space used per employee, and less space overall.
Moricz said that the most common barrier to creating a modern workspace is the heavy upfront cost with a benefit that may be hard to initially quantify.

“Quite often the cost of the space or the cost of the change are easily quantified and tend to be up front, but as the benefits are less upfront and require greater cultural change that’s one of the biggest barriers,” he said.  “It just goes into the too hard basket.  Perhaps if firms paid greater attention to this, they would be able to unlock greater benefit in terms of productivity, staff retention and attraction that might not be there at the moment.”

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