Legal sector embraces home working

97% of law firms in EMEA to include home working in long-term strategy

The home working policy promoted by the government has led to a radical reassessment of the traditional work strategies observed by law firms throughout the entire EMEA (Europe, Middle-East & Africa) region. This is apparent from a flash survey carried out by international real estate advisor CBRE among 47 law firms in EMEA. According to 97% of the respondents, hybrid working – working both at home and at the office or another location – is going to become a part of real estate strategy in the long term. In particular, this strategy will focus on more home working, more flexibility and more high-quality space for meeting and working together.

“This is a significant shift, which we are also seeing in the Netherlands. Traditionally, those working in the legal sector worked mainly at the office and appointments with clients also usually took place at the office, in a confidential environment. Now, they too have made the transition and are working from home much more,” according to René van Dijk, Director Workplace Strategies at CBRE Nederland.

Around 45% of the respondents think that face-to-face contact with clients is becoming less necessary. “In future, meetings with clients will increasingly be held digitally. With a little common sense, you can also work confidentially with clients at other places, for example, at other locations in the country; this does not necessarily have to be at one’s own office. As regards this point, there is now more responsibility on employees to guarantee this confidentiality,” explains Van Dijk.

Working from home two days a week

Even if home working becomes more structural, none of the respondents want to work remotely on a full-time basis. The most popular option is to work from home two days a week (55%). This corresponds with the preferences of employees in other sectors. CBRE's recent Global Employee Sentiment Survey showed that 85% of the respondents would like to work remotely two to three days a week.

Flexible leases

The majority of the respondents, 69%, indicate that flexibility of leases will become an important part of real estate strategy. “This will mean that employers can keep the option of leasing more or less office space easily. It will enable them to better adapt to growth, contraction and other circumstances that affect the staffing of offices, such as coronavirus now. An example of a flexible lease would be one comprising a fixed number of square metres, on the one hand, and a flexible part, on the other, which can be adapted, if necessary, based on use,” according to Van Dijk.

Less office space

The survey shows that a narrow majority (53%) expect offices to become smaller as a result of home working possibilities. “Because of the current economic crisis, making savings is a logical option,” says Van Dijk. “The effect of hybrid working in the long term as regards percentages of square metres is, however, not yet clear.”

More space for meeting and working together

“All this will entail a significant change in the layout of law firms’ offices,” says Van Dijk. “There will be a greater focus on the function of the office as a place for meeting and working together. Law firms realise, as do most companies, that working from home full-time can have a cumulative detrimental effect on the mental health and wellbeing of employees, with consequences for productivity too. The office must really add value and optimally support the activities of employees and their clients. The quality of the office space, the facilities in the building and the environment will therefore become more and more important.”

Other highlights from the survey

  • The office gets priority as a centre for teamwork: 78% expect to facilitate more space for employees to work together in the coming 18-24 months;
  • IT/mobile connectivity is 82% more important than before the pandemic;
  • Working together with personnel is 73% more important than before the pandemic;
  • The wellbeing of employees is 66% more important than before the pandemic;
  • 61% consider WELL – or other sustainability certification – to be more important now than before the pandemic;
  • 89% report that the importance of locations in the city centre will remain the same in the coming 18-24 months.
About CBRE

CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBRE), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Dallas, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2019 revenue). The company has more than 100,000 employees (excluding affiliates) and serves real estate investors and occupiers through more than 530 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide. CBRE offers a broad range of integrated services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services. Please visit our website at