David Coelho

Partner | National Head of Administrative Law and Public Procurement

February 23, 2022

What makes an innovative office in 2022?

What makes an office innovative always depends on the starting point and the reality of each office. Nevertheless, given the centrality that legal work has in the day-to-day activities of law firms, it is possible to identify some aspects that are more or less common to all.

From the outset, it is not possible to ignore the pandemic effects on space management and today the trend is to create sharing spaces for lawyers and other professionals in a partial home office regime. It so happens that the office culture, its most precious asset, is not built, or not easily, with people who do not visit it on a regular basis. Nobody believes in long-distance relationships, so the feeling of belonging to an office, with that identity, demands regular presence. On the other hand, the contribution that the partial home office makes to the always unstable work/life balance is undeniable. So, an innovative office in 2022 is certainly one that manages to create workspaces that combine the optimization that results from the possibilities of sharing spaces without losing the emotional connection to the office culture.

From another perspective, sustainability is the order of the day, so an important factor in attracting talent is related to the ability to implement environmental, social and labor sustainability measures in existing facilities. In many cases this will not be possible and the move to new projects will be unavoidable.

On the technological front, the challenges are more than many. The market already offers a reasonable range of sophisticated products, but they are mainly aimed at automating workflows. Applications for digitizing documents from smartphones, filling in forms or consulting information online, HR management or information flow approval systems proliferate and, more recently, time capture technologies are even available in the Portuguese market promise to increase the profitability of legal work. The key lies in finding the right cost/benefit balance underlying the investment decision (financial, time, resources) in innovative technology directed not at the work itself, but at how we work.

On the other hand, there is a lack of generically accessible solutions specifically aimed at legal work, which represents a problem, given the volume of investment that customized solutions imply, but also an opportunity. In fact, with the generalization of tools for creating custom applications, there is a certain democratization of technological innovation. Thus, in this aspect of technology, the innovative office of 2022, which will undoubtedly have a very relevant competitive advantage, is the one that manages to implement customized solutions aimed at legal work with a moderate investment.

David Coelho | Partner | david.coelho@pra.pt