The situation

Allen & Overy (A&O) is a highly regarded legal practice advising the world’s leading businesses, financial institutions, governments and private individuals. A&O regularly work on cross-border transactions, ground-breaking legal solutions and products, and assist their clients to resolve complex disputes.

When staff were forced to work remotely during the pandemic, the leadership team recognised it was an opportunity to reconsider their workplace strategy and explore new ways of working that could make A&O a more agile organisation.

The firm’s senior management wanted to assess the staff’s appetite for agile working. They also sought to gain an understanding of the company’s true space requirements, ahead of upcoming lease breaks at four of their global offices. These were located in the UK, Australia, Poland and the UAE.

Our approach

We undertook a workplace discovery study in each location. We kept the template the same for each one to enable us to directly compare the data, but amended the application of the research techniques to accommodate cultural sensitives and variations in the local tone and language.

From the outset we recognised that the key to the project’s success was engaging with the partner population, all of whom have a say in how A&O is run. To ensure everyone felt involved in the process, we set up an executive working group.

We also undertook a Future Visioning workshop with senior leaders to understand the organisation’s priorities and the ambitions for its workplace.

In order to understand staff sentiment, workstyles, opportunities and challenges, we conducted a series of engagements with different stakeholder groups. These included interviews, focus groups and surveys with leaders, managers and end users. This in-depth research provided us with the key data we needed to make informed recommendations about how A&O could reach its business objectives.