Workplace design tips to improve employee wellbeing in the legal sector in 2018

Erika Linghorn

by Erika Linghorn

17.01.2018

Making wellbeing part of your business strategy does not only benefit employees, it also increases productivity, and builds a stronger company culture. As more and more sectors across different industries strive to enhance wellbeing in their workplaces, the legal sector still appears to have a long way to go. Our team of experts have worked with many legal firms to enhance their wellbeing strategy. Here, we give an overview on the key areas to consider to make a start on improving employee wellbeing in your legal practice.

Workplace design tips to improve employee wellbeing in the legal sector in 2018
Breakout area at law firm, Wedlake Bell. Design & build by Oktra.

Stress

The Law Society reports almost all solicitors have at one point experienced negative stress in their day-to-day work lives. It is true that not much can be done to change the fast-passed and often stressful working life which surrounds the legal sector. However, as firms begin to talk more openly about wellbeing in the workplace, it is worth considering different design changes that can be implemented to create a stress free work environment.

1. Break out areas
Having areas in the workplace that invite people to take a break can do wonders for productivity. These areas give colleagues the opportunity to take some time to stop and reboot, and to socialise.

2. The office layout
The layout of your office can influence how colleagues experience their workplace. Consider which best works for your team members and whether open plan, private offices or perhaps a combination of these are the most suitable.

3. Active furnishing
The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey show the total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/2017 was 526,00. A prevalent rate of 1,610 per 100,000 workers. The benefits of exercise and movement on stress levels have long been established. Equipping your office with active furnishing encourages a change of scenery and movement around the office. This can include, exercise ball chairs, standing desks, and treadmill desks.

Mental health

In today’s competitive landscape, employees often find themselves working longer hours under more pressure. This can ultimately affect the overall success of the business as employees feel unhappy and unmotivated. In many legal firms there remains a culture of silence around mental health at work. It’s highly important to establish a workplace where individuals feel encouraged to talk about stress, mental health, or any other concerns they may have.

1. Raising awareness about mental health
It is vital to raise awareness and educate team members of the importance of wellbeing and the mind. Enable conversations about mental health by provide opportunities for employees to talk about this issue both confidentially and as a team. It further promotes an open dialogue and embodies positive attitudes within the workplace, resulting in improved internal relationships.

2. Biophilia
Forming a connection with nature; through plants, images and colours, can stimulate creativity and has a calming, positive effect on individual moods. Furthermore, the absence of daylight can cause energy lows and glum feelings. You can maximise natural daylight in your office by; designing meeting rooms with glass walls, placing work desks to face the windows, and inspiring to keep windows as exposed as possible. In their latest workplace trends report The Lawyer UK suggests designing your office in the centre of the floorplan and not around the edges to maximise natural light coming in.

A good work-life balance

In recent years we have witnessed many of our clients move away from traditional expectations of what a law firm should look and feel like.

Law firms can be notorious for their poor work-life balance, long hours and demanding environments. Embracing new working models to encourage a better balance not only reduces the risk of losing valuable team members, but also makes your firm more appealing to new talent.

1. Agile working
People are increasingly seeking flexibility and a choice on how they work. When trying to appeal to different work styles implementing an agile working system could be the answer. Many legal companies already have agile working strategies in place. Trusting employees with the freedom to choose how they work optimises performance and empowers people to do their best work with minimal constraints and maximum flexibility. Make sure your workplace is prepared to allow for this by equipping it with the necessary tools.

2. Fitness in the workplace
Offering a variety of healthy guided activities that all employees can partake in is a natural and enjoyable way to encourage in-office wellness and boost productivity levels. To further inspire a better work-life balance, allocate time for individuals to enjoy fitness activities that they might usually do after or before work but may not have the time.


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