In our latest customer spotlight, we speak to Tom Morrison of Stone King about why Gilbanks was the perfect choice for their Leeds base.
Tell us a little bit about your business
All law firms like to think they are unique, but I think we actually are. We are the only national law firm so heavily invested in the education and charities sectors. Over three quarters of our business is dedicated solely to supporting education providers, charities, social enterprises and businesses who want to do good at the same time as doing well. We are the only law firm which is top ranked by the independent legal directories for our work in education and charities not solely confined to London, being located across six offices nationwide – including our wonderful home in the North at One Park Row in Leeds!
And what about your role?
I have the privilege of leading our national further education practice, working with a talented team supporting colleges throughout the country. I also have responsibility for overseeing our wider education team in the North and am the lead partner for our Leeds office, which includes lawyers in the charity team, employment, HR (the national team also being led from Leeds) and property alongside our great business support colleagues. We also have a new corporate lawyer joining our company & commercial team in January which will get the year off to a great start.
How have you managed your team’s use of your workspace over the last 18 months?
Our office in Leeds gives us the space and flexibility we need to adapt to whatever life throws at us – this past 18 months putting that more to the test than anyone might have imagined. We have had uninterrupted access when we needed it, but as with all of society we have also tried to play our part in controlling the spread of Covid and so have used the office in different ways across the pandemic. We were already very well set up to work in an agile way, with everyone in the business irrespective of role having a Stone King laptop and video conferencing offering the same experience whether in the office, on the move, at a client’s premises or at home. The facilities are state of the art in Leeds which has helped in maintaining a Covid-secure environment and the team at Gilbanks have provided great support to make sure things run smoothly from an operational perspective.
What approach do you take when ensuring the wellbeing of your team?
We want all our people to be safe, happy, fulfilled and to enjoy a long career being part of our firm supporting the work of our amazing clients. In addition to just being the right thing to do and part of our core values, it is also good business sense. Attracting and retaining the brightest and most committed colleagues has been fundamental to the success of our firm and it is a core part of our firm’s strategy – so much so that I lead the Wellbeing Strategy Group within the business. Like all businesses we are evolving our understanding of how best to support wellbeing and we have moved from a series of (important) initiatives to a more cohesive strategic approach, treating our physical and mental wellbeing with the same seriousness as we do in other aspects of our business.
Will you be adopting some form of flexible working moving forward?
We already had flexible working – what internally we call agile working – before the pandemic began. It is fair to say that the amount of time in and out of the office has fluctuated somewhat more than before, and that working hours are more flexible than they were previously. So rather than introducing something new I think it would be fair to say that the pandemic had the effect of accelerating a journey which was already well underway: managing the business by outputs rather than inputs, trusting our brilliant colleagues across the business, using our offices to continue to foster our culture, to collaborate in different ways and to support clients.
What has been your client’s perception of your office?
We are well located in the heart of Leeds. It takes a few minutes to get from my desk to platform 15 at the station and we have parking nearby, both of which have been welcomed in our city centre setting. Clients comment on the professional feel of our offices as well as the hotel-standard welcome (the really good type – so professional that it comes with warmth rather than stuffiness).
What would you say makes Gilbanks stand out from the other serviced office providers?
Its people, its focus on maintaining a tenant community centred around professional services, its attention to detail both in the physical environment and its genuine care for all our clients and colleagues.