Room for thought about facilities and offices in law departments

A piece in the Harvard Business Review, Sept. 2011 at 32, describes a makeover of office space at the pharmaceutical company Lilly. The facts I extracted from the sidebar may not be representative at all, but they triggered some thoughts.

One point was that employees typically spend only 35 percent of their time at their desks. On account of that, some architects think it logical to reduce individual office space and increase the amount of shared and temporary, unassigned space. I have written about cubicles and movable office spaces (See my post March 21, 2006: hoteling at Sun Micro; June 5, 2007: office layout; Feb. 20, 2005: open cubicles; Nov. 19, 2005: open space at non-US law departments; May 7, 2006: office layout; May 4, 2007: shrinking office space; May 24, 2007 #3: a general counsel in a cubicle; April 23, 2008: physical office arrangements; and Dec. 4, 2010: open office arrangements.).

Another point was that the total square footage per employee was 212 (See my post of Nov. 8, 2005: lawyers at 100 per square foot at SEI Investment; Jan. 29, 2009: rental cost in the US for a law department’s space – about $25 a square foot; and Feb. 25, 2009: square foot per lawyer estimated at 700.).

Third, the furniture cost per employee amounted to $9,100, which is an investment I had never allocated to a law department. Offices always just appear, fully decked out, replete with desks, cabinets, shelves and the like (mahogany from heaven).

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