For many people working in the legal sector, the start of the career will have seen partners ensconced in oak panelled offices with the atmosphere very formal and conservative.
While this old manner of working has been long-consigned to history, and open plan structures in use for well over a decade, a new approach to the professional services sector is beginning to gain popularity – one that involves working side-by-side with other companies.
Together we’ve created a new and thriving business community in the heart of Leeds.Jacqui Timmins
Pinsent Masons has collaborated with workspace provider Gilbanks to deliver a new working practice at its base on Park Row in Leeds.
Despite having grown its headcount in recent years, Pinsent Masons had a surplus of office space owing to increasing levels of agile working practice and use of technology.
Jacqui Timmins, Pinsent Masons head of office in Leeds, said that the firm was benefiting from working alongside other advisory firms on a daily basis and that the process was bringing “the business community inside our front door”.
“Business needs flexibility,” she told The Yorkshire Post.
“It needs to now just roam between cities and countries. Having this new office set-up has allowed us to work better and break down barriers.
“A mix of technology, alternative workspaces and agile working means we no longer need a permanent desk for everyone in the firm.
“We decided to think more creatively about how we used our space.
“The idea of sharing a building more widely with other companies in compatible fields appealed. We now benefit from meeting other businesses and companies in the advisory community on a daily basis.”
The Gilbanks development at One Park Row is now 65 per cent let since opening in January and the switch to the more modern working environment has involved a multi-million-pound refurbishment.
Other tenants within the building are Rothschild, Barclays and the Ahead Partnership, a social enterprise which aims to integrate the financial and professional services sectors with the education sector to secure the pipeline of future talent in the city region.
Alex Duckett, managing director of Gilbanks, said: “The traditional model involved creative firms and start-ups initially taking flexible spaces as a springboard to taking on a conventional lease on a building.
“That is now being flipped on its head to something that is more in line with common sense.
“The speed at which companies can grow and contract means that having a five or 10-year lease is not forward thinking. The management team at Pinsent Masons deserve a lot of recognition for a creative and bold approach to their property.
“Together we’ve created a new and thriving business community in the heart of Leeds.
“A mix of corporate advisory services, finance and technology companies means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
“We are already seeing companies doing business with each other.
“It is about recognising workspace not as a negative and business cost, but as a positive opportunity to support growth and attract and retain talent.
“The benefits of partnering with the appropriate style of operator within a larger building are now accepted and this will become a wider trend, which will ultimately help to reinvigorate city centres.”
Ms Timmins added that she hoped other companies would follow the lead taken in One Park Row by her firm and said that the increased co-operation could help address some of the challenges the region’s economy faces.
“We have a skill shortage in our professional services sector,” she said.
“This will only grow if we do not get together as a business community and address this.”