Ropes & Gray LLP, a US-based legal firm, opened their first London office in January 2010. They originally occupied half a floorplate at 5 New Street Square, just less than 10,000 sqft. By early 2011, growth led the practice to lease the entire floorplate, a total of over 17,000 sqft prompting Ropes & Gray to question their space usage.
How could their new space support continuing expansion and structural change more flexibly? Could they go beyond a reactive approach and revolutionise working practices for further efficiencies? As experts in the legal workplace, KKS was engaged to advise Ropes & Gray on an occupational strategy that would answer these questions, and an interior design to realise it. Using various metrics, KKS investigated current work practices among key staff types; Partners, Counsel, Associates and Support.
While retaining a traditional cellular configuration was an option, alternative approaches of studio, open plan or ‘Activity Based Working’ were evaluated against these interview findings – with requirements for privacy and fixed desks balanced against collaboration and space efficiency drivers.
To manage the change KKS developed ‘Rules of Engagement’ for Ropes & Gray staff, an agreed charter on work-setting choice, length of trials and commitment to feedback. The result was a decision to implement ‘Activity Based Working’ becoming the first US law firm to adopt such work practices, a bold and successful move.