Client: Withers Worldwide Industry: Legal Services Portfolio: 18 offices in US, Europe, and Asia Pacific Trimble Solution: Trimble Space Scheduling – Room and Desk Booking Customer Since: 2001
Withers — a leading international law firm headquartered in London — was originally founded in London in 1896. In 2002, it merged with the Connecticut-based law firm Bergman, Horowitz & Reynolds to form Withers Bergman LLP in the United States and Withers LLP in the United Kingdom.
Now, under the Withers Worldwide brand, it has a global presence with 18 offices spanning US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
As a result of impressive organic growth and mergers, Withers has added 8 new international offices in the last five years alone. The firm is now home to some 160 partners, over 450 lawyers and around 1,200 staff — about 40% of whom are based in London.
By 2018, after years of explosive growth, Withers found itself facing escalating demands for meeting spaces and video conferencing facilities around the world.
For 18 years, the firm had been successfully using Trimble’s original Datacraft Hospitality Suite as the standard room booking system for all of its international offices. But Withers recognized that the mounting pressure on the system meant there was an urgent need to revamp its workspace scheduling and space management processes.
At the same time, Withers was having to rethink its overall approach to new technology after deciding to move its London headquarters to an impressive new office space at 20 Old Bailey. The company had taken the radical step of migrating from the fixed cellular office environment typically used by law firms to an open-plan, agile workplace with hot-desking, breakout rooms, private booths and a dedicated client lounge.
As one of London’s forward thinking law firms, Withers was mindful of the need to give its staff the best possible workplace experience in order to attract, engage and retain the finest talent. As a result, the new London office was carefully designed to give staff a wider variety of work settings and allow closer collaboration between the firm’s teams.
“We wanted to create a high-performance workplace that would support the most efficient ways of working with our clients,” said Peter Gibbons, Withers Worldwide’s global head of facilities and logistics operations. “We also needed to make sure our staff had access to the right technology to enable them to do their jobs as efficiently and productively as possible.”
In the case of room booking, said Gibbons, it was crucial to have a system that would allow the firm to meet the different workspace needs of its staff around the world while also making it easier for people to choose the facilities they needed for each meeting.
Withers was also acutely aware of the importance of being able to streamline and automate its space management and room booking procedures to allow the increasing number of meetings to run as smoothly as possible.
“When you’ve got lawyers who charge by the minute, the efficient use of meeting space and video conferencing is the lifeblood of what we do,” Gibbons explained. “Being able to run meetings all the time, and have them work really well, is fundamental to our business. That’s why we put such a huge amount of effort and resources into it.”
To overcome these challenges, Withers Worldwide decided to upgrade to Trimble Space Scheduling — a feature-rich room booking software solution and latest advance in the evolution of the Trimble technology already in use by Withers.
Designed to support activity-based agile working, the easy-to-use and intuitive software enables international companies to collaborate across borders by streamlining the booking and management of meeting rooms and associated client services — including complex video conferencing across multiple sites.
Withers chose to deploy Trimble Space Scheduling in 17 of its 18 offices around the world, including London. This also gave the law firm the opportunity to introduce digital room signage for the first time with Trimble’s LiveSign Pro panels – advanced touch-screens that are seamlessly integrated with the space scheduling software.
The easy-to-use LiveSign Pro panels were fitted outside the company’s reservable breakout rooms. Each panel’s red, amber and green LED lights allow users to see at a glance whether a room is already taken or is available to be pre-booked. The panels also allow users to book a room on the fly without having to go through the room booking team as in the past.
“Trimble Space Scheduling also enables us to display a rolling meeting room list on big screens in our lift lobby,” said Gibbons. “If the room booking team have to change a pre-booked room, the screens display up-to-the-minute room information so people always know which room they’re meant to be going to. This avoids confusion and saves time.”
Despite it being a major global project that spanned four continents, the Trimble and Withers project teams successfully met the deadline for implementing the upgraded room booking system and LiveSign Pro panels in all locations. Crucially, the new system went live in time for the opening of Withers Worldwide’s exciting new flagship office in London in August 2018.
Peter Gibbons believes the key to such a successful completion was the appointment of a dedicated Withers project manager who worked closely with Trimble’s project team to drive the massive undertaking forward. “There was too much at stake,” said Gibbons, “so we took it very seriously. We allowed enough time and put enough resources into it.”
Another important factor was the firm’s determination to make sure its staff around the world felt as if they owned the project too. They were invited to provide suggestions and feedback at an early stage. Withers departments which now benefit from the new system include:
Front-of-house team (responsible for managing room bookings)
Facilities team (responsible for meeting room setups)
Let alone all the staff and visitors who make use of the organisation’s facilities.
Withers staff based in the London office can also use the system to reserve a booth or a workspace in the new dedicated Client Lounge — a relaxed, private area which was designed especially for the firm’s clients and intermediaries who want to work or meet in central London. Catering is available in the lounge throughout the day.
“Overall, room booking is undoubtedly a more efficient and less time-consuming process now, with less chance of a misalignment of requirements,” said Gibbons. “The system is easier to use and it has given people more say because they can now request a specific room whereas before it was allocated to them by the room booking team. It has helped to increase satisfaction levels from the room user’s perspective.”
Another key factor in the decision to upgrade to Trimble Space Scheduling was the ability to bolt on additional features at a later stage as the firm’s requirements evolve.
“It was something that really appealed to us compared with what other suppliers were offering,” said Gibbons. “It was important for us to have the option to pick and choose because a certain feature — such as the ‘mobile receptionist’ facility — could become appropriate for a particular location at some point. We wanted to future-proof our offices and Trimble Space Scheduling has enabled us to do that.”
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