As Warren Bennis eloquently put it: “There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish.”
Tragically, however, many law firm owners are almost comically oblivious to the defects in the physical environments at their firms. Like it or not, we are all creatures; as such, we are exquisitely and subconsciously sensitive to the architecture of the spaces we occupy.
Small environmental factors – the firmness of the chairs in your waiting room; the ambient temperature; whether your firm is located in an ugly strip mall or a beautiful old restored building – can profoundly affect both your clients and your employees in ways that are difficult to predict and hard to trace back to root causes.
For instance, a secretary might be mildly allergic to mold in your carpets. He thus starts dragging two hours into the day, every day. As a result, when he gets on the phone with clients and prospects, his low energy then brings them down and thus affects both client satisfaction and lead generation.
Environmental factors impact associate attrition rate, customer conversion and quality of life for everyone touched by your firm.
So what can you do about it? Here’s a simple way forward: just ask people what they do and do not like about your physical space! After all, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
Prepare a questionnaire to gather information. Ask clients and associates about features that you fear might be causing problems (e.g. bare walls, an overly cold lobby, a light that makes an irritating noise, etc.) as well as features that you’re proud of (e.g. a beautiful piece of art in the waiting area, a new artisanal coffee machine you just had put in, etc.)
Inspect what you expect and make needed changes ASAP. Your clients will give you valuable feedback. Your associates and employees will love that you’re taking the time to attend to these “trivial” (but really not at all trivial) details. And you’ll personally enjoy coming to work once you’ve tweaked the environment to be more appealing to everyone.