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We all know the old adage that “two heads are better than one.” It was not until reading The 3rd Alternative by Stephen R. Covey, however, that I truly began to appreciate the wisdom behind this statement. In The 3rd Alternative, Mr. Covey details the advantages that come when people work together toward a common goal. Put simply, when two or more people work together towards a common goal, the results are more than the sum of its parts.
Many of us are familiar with the classic layout of a law office. Lawyers sit in their own offices spread around the perimeter of the building, staff in the middle and, with the closing of a door, lawyers are able to exist in their own solitary bubble. Not exactly the most conducive environment for interaction and working together. But why does it have to be this way? Why can’t lawyers work together, bounce ideas off of each other and work towards a common goal? By changing the layout of a traditional law office, would it be possible to improve the ultimate work product?
At Hull & Hull LLP, we have been experimenting with what we have dubbed our “Synergy Rooms” since January 2012, and have been thrilled with the results. The Synergy Room concept is fairly straightforward. Each of the partners have given up their own individual offices, and have moved into larger rooms with two partners in each room. Within these rooms there are then stations set up for associates and articling students who, on a rotation and drop-in basis, work together in the same space. Ideas are bounced off each other, access to lawyers improved, and young lawyers are able to learn from example, seeing first-hand how more senior lawyers manage their clients and their files.
While at first thought the idea seems daunting (giving up your own office after all seems like a big first step), the results we have experienced more than make up for any early concerns. While there were some “kinks” that we had to work out, such as giving those in the Synergy Rooms access to private rooms for personal phone calls, these kinks were easily worked out and we have no intention of going back to the “classic” office layout. Two heads really are better than one. By working together in a “Synergy Room” environment, you can see the results first hand.