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A cool, calm and collected space for Bristol’s lawyers

Having been working in their original Interaction office for 11 years, VWV wanted a refresh that set their workspace apart from other law firms. Rather than slick and corporate, VWV wanted a welcoming office that reflected their friendly and approachable culture.

Originally spread over three floors, the decision to sublet the third floor has brought the VWV team closer together over two floors. Making the space feel inclusive and hospitable was top of the list, with workplace wellbeing at the heart of the project.

Designed by the team, for the team

Creating connections

To understand what an employee focussed workspace looked like in practice, we made sure the entire VWV team were engaged with the design process. The results of online anonymous surveys and face-to-face workshops which explored working styles formed the basis of the design brief.

Whilst many of the solicitors and partners simply wanted a desk, the support teams and operational staff – from marketing to HR – requested more flexible working areas that offered space to collaborate and have informal meetings. This variation in working styles between different departments and employees is now celebrated in VWV’s workspace, with an abundance of flexible working zones to choose from. From focus booths to collaboration benches, the workspace caters to every task, allowing every department to work at their best.

A staircase was built in the atrium, connecting the ground and first floors. Where minimal movement between areas had created siloing and separation between departments, the opened up space now encourages community and collaboration between staff on both floors.

A destination office

Not your average law firm

VWV were keen to create a destination office that was attractive for employees, even on a hybrid work framework. Moving away from client-focussed corporate law offices, VWV wanted a welcoming space that prioritised employee experience.

We incorporated amenities such as a Yoga room and upgraded cycle storage facilities to encourage active lifestyles and sustainable commuting practices. A multi-faith room and wellbeing space for breastfeeding mothers allows the office to be as inclusive as possible. Additionally, state-of-the-art coffee taps, free snacks and good quality toiletries ensures that employee wellbeing is at the forefront of this project.

We ensured flexibility for employees to work however they choose. Despite the large breakout area on the ground floor and the teapoint on the first floor, there are still plenty of desks with room to add even more as VWV grows. We closed off the atrium with glass to avoid noise pollution between floors and commissioned one-off patterned acoustic panelling to keep those focus workspaces as quiet as possible.

The new yoga studio offers employees a space to reduce stress and improve wellbeing.

Look and feel

A calming space

Understanding the pressures of a legal career, our main goal was to create a space that feels calming. Pastel greens and pinks were used alongside an abundance of planting to help create a more relaxing space. Breakout areas were prioritised to allow employees to have time away from the stresses of work.

To align with VWV’s sustainability practices, furniture was reused and repurposed wherever possible. Where new furniture was required, local suppliers were chosen. Artwork and ceramics from local Bristol artists decorate the space, and celebrate VWV’s Bristol-based heritage.

While the new office is focussed on employee wellbeing, that’s not to say client-facing spaces have been neglected. Calming colours and relaxed seating were chosen to help clients feel at ease. An investment in tech includes first-in-class video and conference equipment to improve online court hearings and client meetings.