Smart uses of technology in our work go beyond mastering the most essential software, or using the coolest hardware.  Smart use of technology includes an “old school” focus on one benefit of technology that is grounded in a thoughtful layout of your office and of your desktop: collaboration. Here are some observations on how I foster collaboration by the layout of my new office and the hardware on my desktop.  The goal, of course, is to be better, smarter and faster.  

For those who follow me here at L360, you’re probably asking: “what’s going on this month? Why so few posts? The answer is two-fold: in the last 3 weeks –

  • I’ve given two presentations on (i) “how” lawyers should better use technology and (ii) the technology trends that will impact lawyers.  Each presentation was for a different audience (the annual meeting of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys and at the University of Texas Law School’s Mortgage Lending Institute [MLI]).  This Friday, I’ll give the MLI presentation a second time, but in Austin.  These presentations are a great opportunity for me to sharpen my vision on the ways technology will allow lawyers to work more efficiently, to bring more value to their clients and to collaborate with clients and each other.
  • My law firm (the Dallas office) moved out of one building and into another one.  This is my first move into another building since 1989.  Of course, “how” we work has changed immensely in the 23 years since 1989.  This is an opportunity for me to change the physical attributes and layout of my office and my desktop, in order to be better, smarter and faster.

Today is the third day after the move.   A walk around the floors, and peeks into the other offices,  clearly shows that my brain works . . . differently . . .  than . . . anyone.  (Or at least my office looks very different from the other offices.) My new office focuses on collaboration as the path to better, smarter & faster. (read Tom Mighell and Dennis Kennedy’s book).  Some of this might work for you:

  • No desk.  Instead, I have a small, round table with chairs (4 chairs – once we “find” the wayward fourth chair).  The table will be kept clean and used for team meetings.  It gives us a place to meet, independent of other meeting rooms.  I use an elevated (electric) computer table as my “stand up desk.”   I still can sit on a stool at the elevated computer table, or use the small table.  However, I never write down information; instead, I’m typing notes, e-mails, document changes, etc.  It is 100% electronic.
  • Stand up work “desk.”  The elevated work “desk” allows 2 or 3 of us to look at documents, maps, plats, and other resource materials (online).  This results in “real time” discussions, decisions and work product.
  • Two large (19″) computer monitors on the stand up work space.  Now we can have multiple items in front of us.  For example, when I review work, no one hands me a piece of paper.  Instead, we pull it up and black line it to show the suggested changes.  On the 2nd screen we make any modifications to the document.  No passing documents with hand written markups.  This is “real time learning” followed by quick execution.
  • Separate notebook computer.  The “stand up” work space is large enough to allow me to also use my MacBook Air, which now gives us yet another tool to access documents, maps, plats and other resource materials.
  • Small projector & larger meetings.  If needed (larger groups or simply needing a larger screen or viewing area), I have a small (2oo lumens) Acer K-11 projector, which allows us to all look at the same content (documents, maps, plats and other materials).  I’ll connect my small projector to my MacBook Air, which will throw the desktop onto the wall.

This layout should achieve my goal: an office where the team, as a whole, will be more efficient and with better collaboration, our work product will be enriched. If you have any suggestions, please comment below.