This London Law Firm Went Totally Mobile

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150326 KKS CMS hh 045
Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.

CMS London has ditched the stale, impersonal design of a corporate office, and they aren’t looking back.

The international consulting firm, which offers law and tax advice, relocated their London office to Cannon Place over the summer. The new office coincided with a new, client-centric initiative – the company got rid of the traditional receptionist desk in favor of a “meet and greet” concierge approach, creating a space for more conversation between the company and the client.

With the new office came the addition of new technology. Employees have been issued a state-of-the-art laptop, wireless headset and 24” screen, enabling them to stay mobile and take advantage of the different types of workspaces throughout the office.

We touched base with CMS to find out more…

Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.
Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.

What is the address of the project?

Cannon Place, 78 Cannon Street, London EC4N 6AF

Who was the building architect?

Foggo Associates

Image courtesy of MCM Architecture.
Image courtesy of MCM Architecture.

Who was the interior architect/designer?

MCM Architecture and KKS Strategy

When was the project completed?

June 29, 2015

Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.
Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.

What is the total square footage?

140,000 square feet

What is the square footage per person?

172 square feet per person

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?

Approximately 850 people

What is the location’s proximity to public transportation and other amenities?

The building sits directly above Cannon Street Station and has numerous links to all means of transport.  There are a number of cafes, restaurants, and shops located in the surrounding area.

Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.
Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.

Which furniture brands/dealers were used? Please touch upon any notable products, how they were used, and if they solved a specific problem.

Ergonom Workstations: These workstations were specifically tailored to enable fee earners to sit in an open plan environment efficiently and comfortably but with an element of privacy and with a sufficient degree of lockable storage. (Fee earners previously sat in a cellular environment). They were also provided with movable stools which encourage collaboration. Ergonom provided the screens for the open plan areas, and these played a fundamental part in locating the sector groups on the floors by the graphics applied to them and also were used as a device to break up the space into a series of human scale neighborhoods.

Modus – Interactive Table (designed by KKS & Engage): This table enables visitors and clients to learn more about the firm and their sectors by using  tokens on the screen to access a range of industry-specific content.

Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.
Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.

Walter Knoll, Knoll International, Fritz Hansen, B&B Italia, and Vitra were other suppliers that provided all the front of house breakout areas.  These different styles of furniture helped create different working environments for all visitors from private intimate spaces to workable and interactive areas.

Typically the furniture throughout was selected to provide a simple uncluttered look with a mixture of design classics and more contemporary pieces to be both functional and durable for the design life of the building.

Is there a mobile work or work-from-home policy or are most of the employees there all day every day?

The new technology used at Cannon Place allows for total mobility, enabling staff to work at their desks, move into a meeting room, or around the building, or work remotely.

CMS uses Microsoft technologies and designs to create a system of working that has never been seen before in the legal profession. Microsoft Lync is the centerpiece for unified communication in Cannon Place and provides voice and video calls, web meetings and instant messaging, facilitating communication internally and externally.

Image courtesy of MCM Architecture.
Image courtesy of MCM Architecture.

All fee-earners have been issued with the latest Surface Pro 3, a 24” screen and a wireless headset. Surface Pro 3s are one of the most advanced laptops available, and can function as a touch screen and an app-based tablet device.

Lync is a telephone system and all calls outside CMS go across phone lines. Internal calls across CMS’ offices go through their WAN network.

It allows staff to screen-share with colleagues and hold video conferences from their desks. Staff can also annotate documents directly onto their Surface Pro and send this to the Document Centre (DOCE) or to a secretary for processing.

Windows phones have replaced BlackBerry devices and are fully integrated with Lync as both are Microsoft products. The combination of Windows phones and Lync means staff are fully mobile, and able to take and join calls at their desks, in a break-out room, at home or wherever they happen to be.

Image courtesy of MCM Architecture.
Image courtesy of MCM Architecture.

What percentage of the space is unassigned?

100 percent of desks are assigned, but expansion is predicated on a potential degree of mobility and possible sharing over time as staff adapt to working in an agile fashion both in the building and elsewhere.

How is the company’s brand reflected in the space?

CMS is a dynamic business and this has been represented throughout the building, particularly in the Technology Hub, Client Space and the progressive agile work spaces on the working floors. By embracing a truly high-tech mobile working culture, CMS’ fee earners have all the tools they need to advise their clients instantly literally anywhere in the world they happen to be. And by combining their new technology with an open plan, collaborative environment, with fee earner grouped according to their core sectors, all staff are able to share knowledge and ideas with colleagues and devise more creative, innovative ways of servicing their clients.

Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.
Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.

The Technology Hub has been created as an area for clients and visitors to feel welcome and a place where they can take advantage of CMS’ digital media capabilities, including:

Interactive table: The interactive touch table opposite the media wall is at visitors’ disposal to browse the internet while they’re waiting for their meeting. Here they will find shortcuts to relevant CMS websites and can access news sources such as the Financial Times. Additionally, they can place one of the sector tokens on the screen to access a range of industry-specific content.

iPads on arrival to browse the internet.

iMac located in the Business Centre for all guests. The Business Centre is a primary space for all visitors, staff and clients to use (ordinarily a back of house amenity at law firms).

Surface Pro 3s for all fee earners, enabling total mobility.

Totem: The first thing you notice when arriving in CMS’ Client Space is the digital totem with city images of all CMS office locations. The totem showcases upcoming CMS events (worldwide and in London).

Media Wall: In the Tech Hub visitors will find a nine-screen media wall. Here, they can follow the latest news, track up-to-the-minute market information, find out the status of the London Underground network, or check the local time and weather of nearly 60 cities.

The artwork and signage around the building were chosen to reflect CMS’ global reach and sector led business approach. In November 2014, CMS colleagues were encouraged to submit photographs that represented their version of ‘world vision’ which could be personal or client related. A World Mural was created using thousands of these images. Close up you can see individual pictures that have been contributed but from a distance it is an inclusive global image of an impressive scale.

What is the most unique feature about the new space?

Client Space: Particularly the use of innovative technology that allows total mobility, as well as the concierge approach rather than having a dedicated reception desk.

Workspace: Open plan (rather than cellular), collaborative and Wi-Fi enabled agile workspaces throughout the building.  Everywhere in the building can be used as a work space.

Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.
Image courtesy of KKS Strategy.

What was the hardest aspect of change for people in moving from the former space?

We thought it would be moving our fee earners from cellular spaces to open plan. However this has gone well for the majority of employees, who like their new contemporary London office and the significantly upgraded technology. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with the majority of requests for small items such as more bins and to have kettles instead of zip taps. We have responded to these requests.

150327 KKS CMS 0782
Image courtesy of MCM Architecture.

Please talk about any other notable aspects of the project that make it unique.

The meet and greet business hub area as reception space and an accumulation of all the above.  In particular, the extensive adoption of mobile technology through Lync, smart phones, the adoption of Surface Pro 3 tablets, and the meeting room facilities.

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