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  • How to Support Employee Wellbeing in the Legal Sector

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  • Making wellbeing part of your business strategy doesn’t only benefit employees, it also increases productivity and builds a stronger company culture, leading to a higher degree of commercial success.

  • Taking appropriate measures to ensure a safe and productive environment for your employees is more important now than ever before, but workplace wellbeing was an area of growing importance well before the coronavirus pandemic brought it to the forefront of everyone’s minds. Creating the right physical, social and psychological environment for supporting success is a key part of talent attraction and retention, and forms the basis of a winning business strategy.

    Employee wellbeing is particularly important in the legal sector due to the high-stress and fast-paced nature of work. 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.

    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 working environment

    1. The physical environment

    We spend 90% of our time indoors, meaning the built environment has a sizeable impact on occupant wellbeing. It’s important to make sure your employees work in an environment with a healthy amount of natural light and control over noise and temperature levels. We’ve published a list of design considerations for businesses looking to create COVID-secure workspace to protect their employees and facilitate a safe return to the workplace, including elements like on-way navigation, anti-microbial surfaces and socially-distanced layouts. Companies must also consider whether their employees are equipped to work from home. Providing extra monitors, chairs and desks is a great way to ensure remote workers have the tools they need to be productive.

    2. Breakout areas

    Designated spaces for non-work-related interactions are a crucial part of any workspace. Employees need to be able to get away from their desks in order to socialise, take breaks or hold informal meetings. Having areas in the workplace that invite people to take a break can do wonders for productivity. Giving colleagues the opportunity to come together organically will also increase creativity levels while ensuring focused workspace stays quiet and free from distractions.

    3. The office layout

    The layout of your office can influence how colleagues experience and move through the workplace. Consider what works best for your team members and whether open plan, private offices or perhaps a combination of these are the most suitable. Boult Wade Tenant are a great example of a law firm that’s adopted agile work practices to create a more diverse and collaborative environment while still catering to focused, individual work.

    4. Active furnishing

    Recently published data from the Health and Safety Executive reports that 828,000 workers across Great Britain suffered from work-related anxiety, stress or depression from 2019-2020, resulting in the loss of 17.9 million working days across the same period. Introducing active design and furnishing is just one way to help combat these statistics by supporting employees with workspace that encourages a dynamic office experience. The benefits of exercise and movement on stress levels have long been established – consider introducing ergonomic furniture like exercise ball chairs, standing desks and treadmill desks.

    Mental health

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    1. Open communication

    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 important to establish an inclusive company culture, allowing individuals to talk about stress, mental health, or any other concerns they may have.

    2. Available resources

    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 idea to have a designated and confidential way for staff to raise any personal mental health concerns they may have.

    3. 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 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.

    4. Incorporating 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 keeping windows as exposed as possible. Depending on your building and requirements, designing your office in the centre of the floorplan can be a great way to maximise natural light.

    Work/life balance

     

    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

    A flexible working environment provides employees with greater choice of workspace while equipping businesses with the ability to nimbly navigate the future. Agile working practices cater to a wide range of working styles and foster open communication and collaboration. Many legal companies already have agile working strategies in place.

    2. Flexible working

    Remote working is now a viable and successful operating strategy for many businesses. 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. The option to work from home one to two days a week is something many employees will expect post-pandemic.

    3. Promote active lifestyles

    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 not have time to practice before or after work.

    4. Amenities

    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. In order to entice employees’ return, businesses are bringing amenities like catered dining and fitness facilities into the workplace.

  • 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.

    download now
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