Office Work Space Is Shrinking, but That’s Not All Bad (New York Time, 19 Jan 2011) is a good read for anyone interested in working virtually and the future of work spaces.  

Employees have become more mobile. One study found that 60% of desks are vacant at a time. The average amount of space per US worker has shrunk by more than one-third. One motivation is to reduce cost. Another is to encourage collaboration. “Even tradition-bound firms in accounting and banking are embracing open-plan offices and other changes.”

I like the closing quote by the president of leading office furniture and systems maker Steelcase: “A lot of thinking about the office has changed. The work setting was a reflection of your status. A job focuses more on collaboration than on the individual now.”

Mary Abraham’s post What Makes Lawyers So Challenging? reports today on findings about lawyers’ personalities. I’d say BigLaw office space reflects – and protects – the personality types.

What I still fail to understand is why, if lawyers spend the day holed up in their office, they do not just work at home? I know the idea – as most partners propound – is to collaborate. If that’s true, then why don’t law firms design space that fosters collaboration? Granted some firms have created some cafe spaces. But every BigLaw office I’ve walked in the last two years still looks, by and large, like law firms of 20 years ago.