Law Firm Hugh James Takes a Radical Approach to Its Working Environment.
With over 50 years’ experience, Hugh James is a Top 100 UK Law Firm and the largest in Wales, with offices in Cardiff and London. The practice has specialists in almost every area of the law, as well as experts across diverse sectors, from banking and finance to energy; agriculture to sport; insurance to healthcare; construction to the creative industries, and from retail to social housing.
Hugh James’s management team wanted to remain at the forefront of their market, and, believing that a new way of working would be key to their success, they called upon Paramount Interiors, the leading Cardiff-based interior design business, to explore a refurbishment of their city centre headquarters.
Paramount and consultancy Lee Wakemans – a Cardiff based property management business, which specialises in understanding clients' aspirations and delivering a complete solution – worked with Hugh James to explore how new ways of working might deliver the dynamic change they sought to make.
Lee Wakemans’ Director, Paul Wong explains, “We explored some of the blockers for effective working with Hugh James and then devised some workplace solutions that suited how they wanted to work and also inspired new ways of working that had not previously been considered. Paramount and Kinnarps then delivered the environment that met these aspirations and realised the vision.”
In what was a bold step for a member of a very traditionally structured and hierarchical industry, Hugh James acted upon recommendations to incorporate some of the new 3Cs concept from Kinnarps, which sees provision of task-based, agile working areas for collaboration, contemplation and concentration.
A move from an essentially cellular office layout to broadly open-plan has resulted in far more effective communication and team-working. Partners and support staff now work on open banks of Kinnarps’s new Oberon desking system, with large POC cabinets, to the side of each workstation, which provide the volume of hard copy file storage essential to the effective working of a legal practice.
Individual Oberon desks for the partners are scattered amongst the support teams, break-out furniture provides a quiet spot to contemplate or to catch up with colleagues in a more relaxed atmosphere, and there is a dedicated concentration room. Managing Partner, Alun Jones, even has a sit-stand Oberon workstation, which allows the height of his desk to be electronically adjusted from a sitting height to a standing height at the touch of a button. This shift of working style has allowed Hugh James to accommodate more staff in the same space, while offering the added benefits of improved break-out options and easier communication with colleagues.
Due to its prominent, high-traffic location – in the heart of Cardiff City Centre – the delivery and installation of the furniture was a logistical challenge for Kinnarps. However, the solution was to deliver at midnight, and unload and install through the small hours, to prevent disruption to both the public and the working offices of Hugh James and surrounding businesses.
As Managing Partner Alun Jones comments:
‘It may have been a leap of faith for a Law Firm to make, but the result is a vibrant workplace where everyone can easily work together, yet still concentrate and find personal space when they need to. I am delighted that our move to a more modern working environment has worked so well.’
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