How to Support Employee Wellbeing in the Legal Sector | Oktra
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  • How to Support Employee Wellbeing in the Legal Sector

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  • Employee wellbeing is an essential part of any business strategy as it helps build a positive working environment and engaged workplace culture. Traditionally, employees in the legal sector work long hours and carry the pressure of high expectations which can be detrimental to both physical and mental health.

    The Law Society reports that most solicitors have experienced negative stress in their day-to-day work lives. As companies across sectors strive to optimise employee wellbeing, law firms are beginning to prioritise a positive shift in this arena as well.

    Acting appropriately to ensure a safe and productive environment for your employees is more important now than ever before. Since new ways of working have come to prominence, there has been a shift towards improving workplace wellbeing. Creating the right physical, social and psychological environment for supporting success is becoming a foundational requirement for businesses across all sectors to assist with talent attraction and retention, as well as keeping up with the new demands of the workplace.

    As the typical working environment in the legal sector continues to evolve, it’s worth considering the many ways your office design can support the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees. We’ve divided key areas of consideration into three categories: the working environment, mental health and work/life balance.

  • The office layout can support wellbeing

    The demand for privacy is an essential element of a legal office but through careful space planning, you can design an environment that delivers private spaces without compromising on employee experience. Stress is common within the legal sector and the layout of your office is often overlooked as part of an internal wellbeing strategy.

    A recent survey conducted by insurance firm Protectivity showed that the legal profession is the second most stressed profession in Britain, with 63% of respondents saying that they experience stress daily. To help combat some stress in the workplace, it is important to consider office layout to ensure limited noise distraction and access to natural light to is preserved for employees.

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  • The legal sector will typically require more meeting rooms and individual offices due to the confidentiality of their work, but with more law firms openly embracing agile working, there is greater flexibility to design wellbeing into legal offices. Boult Wade Tenant have adopted agile working in their office to create a more diverse and collaborative environment while still catering to focused, individual work.

    Designated breakout spaces are another important workplace feature that will support wellbeing. Reports suggest that workspaces will experience a shift to include more collaborative areas – rising from circa. 10% to 25%. Through intelligent office design, these breakout spaces can be positioned to give staff the prime real estate within the office so that they can benefit from natural light.

    Being able to accommodate non-work-related interactions within the office enables staff to get away from their desks to take breaks and socialise with colleagues. This has shown to be a boost to productivity too. By giving staff access to these areas within the office, there is an opportunity for people to gravitate to certain spaces without disrupting others at their desks.

  • How can office design help mental health?

    In today’s competitive landscape, employees often find themselves working longer hours under more pressure. Following a study held with the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society of England and Wales, it was reported that over 93% of young people in the legal sector are stressed. This can 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 important to establish an inclusive company culture, allowing individuals to talk about stress, mental health, or any other concerns they may have.

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  • There are some design features that law firms can bring into their offices to help improve employee’s mental wellbeing. One of the most tried and tested methods is to introduce biophilic elements into your workplace. This will help form a connection with nature by bringing the outside, in. It has been proven to help boost productivity by around 20%, but most importantly it can provide a calming, relaxing effect on individual moods. This also applies to access to natural light which is another way of enriching the workplace to benefit mental health. Depending on your building and requirements, designing your office in the centre of the floorplan can be an effective way to maximise natural light coming in.

    Another way to improve mental health in the workplace is to include reflection rooms or yoga spaces within the office. These additions have become more popular with businesses that require long hours at the desk as it allows people to retreat fully from the office to take time to themselves or exercise to help relieve stress. A study published by the Journal of Physical Activity and Health showed that 20 minutes of yoga per day could help your brain focus better, increasing speed and accuracy of brain function.

  • The role of work/life balance in wellbeing

    Law firms can be notorious for their poor work-life balance, long hours and demanding environments. To entice employees’ return, businesses are creating amenities within the office, like catered dining and subsidised gym memberships, to improve the wellbeing provisions at work.

    We’re seeing a rise in the importance of amenity space and a domestic influence in workplace design. Working from home poses serious limitations, but for some it also fosters a far better work/life balance with the ability to work where and when they feel most productive.

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  • 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.

    Many legal companies already have agile working strategies in place and a flexible working environment provides employees with greater choice of workspace. Agile working practices cater to a wide range of working styles and foster open communication and collaboration. With remote working carrying less of a stigma than in the past, giving employees the freedom to choose how they work will help optimise their performance and give them more flexibility during the working work.

  • How can the legal sector improve wellbeing at work?

    It is vital to raise awareness and educate team members of the importance of wellbeing and the mind. Enable conversations about mental health by providing 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.

    Support your employees’ mental health by offering access to various resources and support systems. Businesses can provide employees with access to external support, like Bupa’s mental health support team or connecting them to free mental health services offered by the NHS. It’s also a good option to have a designated and confidential way for staff to raise any personal mental health concerns they may have.

  • For more information on workplace wellbeing, you can visit our Wellbeing and Office Design page or speak to one of our experts by filling out the form below.
  • The Legal Lookbook

    We are experts in designing innovative workspaces for legal firms that support their business goals and create an outstanding client and employee experience. Find out how we can help your business and see who we have worked with in our lookbook.

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