As the firm plans for the upcoming move of its Nashville office to Nashville Yards, Bass, Berry & Sims’ Managing Partner Todd Rolapp and Chief Administrative Officer Craig Bingham co-authored an article for the Nashville Business Journal offering their outlook on the future of office space for the legal industry.

Law firms have tended to return to the office faster than other professions, with the majority of firms embracing remote work one to three days a week as a means to reap the benefits of remote work while retaining important aspects of the office. “To be successful, they’ll need to reimagine the in-person office experience,” Todd and Craig said. “The office will need to be redesigned to be less of a destination for head-down work and more of a tool for connection, collaboration and building engagement and trust. Planning around office space has therefore become less of a financial and operational endeavor and more of a cultural exercise.”

With the shift to a remote/virtual environment preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, embracing hybrid work is consistent with a broader cultural phenomenon. “Lessons learned from this shift suggest that firms should aggressively focus on ensuring that in-office time is used to build meaningful relationships,” the authors suggested.

To do this, Todd and Craig said the firm’s design plans for the new Nashville Yards office space has shifted investment away from dedicated individual space toward collaborative spaces, expanded food and café options, event and meeting space, and gathering and informal space. “Most importantly, all the space is configured to be extremely flexible to allow us to adjust in the future,” they said.

The authors concluded by saying that office experiences should include amenities, but hopefully law firm leaders will remember that the most important office amenity in a hybrid system is people. “Firms will need to be agile and experiment, embracing ideas that work and quickly abandoning those that don’t. The stakes are high. Those that land on the right balance will gain a competitive advantage by fostering the well-being, success and retention of their professionals,” they said.

The full article, “Future Law Offices Need Collaboration, Community,” was published by Nashville Business Journal in the print edition on August 12 and online on August 18.