By LISA MONTI
Visitors to Baker Donelson’s new law offices won’t see corner offices, standard office furniture or a plain coffee pot on the kitchenette counter. Those and other fixtures have been replaced by non-traditional, new features like sit-stand desks and coffee bars.
The firm’s lawyers and staff moved into three of the five floors of the new One Eastover Center in Jackson in late March and have settled in to their new work space.
The new furniture, which does not include the usual credenza and desk, took some getting used to, said Scott Pedigo, the managing shareholder responsible for the overall operation of the office.
“It is a change to give up their traditional office furniture that people had for many years,” he said.
“While that was a shock to some folks, they were pleasantly surprised by the flexibility of the new furniture and how they could make it their own.”
Each attorney’s office has a work station, a sit-stand desk and other pieces that can be arranged in a traditional layout or in a more flexible fashion.
“We’ve seen configurations that we never envisioned,” he said.
A firm committee worked for the last 3 1/2 years with architects, consultants and others in the design and layout of the building and space. The response has been favorable, he said.
Before the move, the firm was housed in two buildings connected by a walkway, an arrangement Pedigo admitted “was not ideal for collaboration.” People tended to stay in the building where they worked, he said.
“The new building is designed to be more efficient and have more common areas so we would have more interaction,” Pedigo said. Consultants calculated the best dimensions for the space and the offices were built with those dimensions in mind.
The office space is unique, he said, because it’s built around a center stair. “Instead of having all meeting rooms on one floor, the new space has all the meeting rooms down the center core connected by an open center stairwell.” It eliminates the privacy issue of having visitors passing through private work spaces to get to a meeting and it promotes more interaction.
The new space falls in line with the trend of uniform office size for all attorneys. “We did not want to waste big corner spaces on offices and wanted more common areas for employees for private calls or meetings,” he said. “Our employees are working in a more open environment than they had before.”
The building’s high-end coffee service also follows a national office trend, replacing the break room coffee pot with a service area to foster more informal connections during the day. The quality of the coffee has improved to match the nicer presentation.
Another popular feature is the break room on the fifth floor that wraps around the southwest corner overlooking the District at Eastover development under construction on 22 acres adjacent to I-55 and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. It connects with a large conference room that can be used for special events.
The law firm has plans to add a three-station work area on the ground floor. Dubbed The Genius Bar, it will be used for training sessions on new technologies. “The idea is that as we roll out new things, people can grab a cup of coffee and use that space to be away from their phones.”
The firm has 75 attorneys in Jackson and has enough space to accommodate up to 102.
“There is plenty of room for growth,” Pedigo said. “We actually have as much room to grow, if not more, with less space because of the way it is configured. We eliminated a lot of interior space where we used to store paper.”