Macfarlanes Return to Office app

Providing essential support for staff on the return to office, via an app.

Macfarlanes logo

Challenge

Support employees returning to the office and facilitate a new collaborative working environment.

Solution

An app to manage and book shared facilities, as well as contact and communicate with colleagues.

Result

The new app plays a vital role in the new shared facilities. Staff like the app and are confident about returning to the office.

The Client

Macfarlanes is an independent London-based law firm with a high profile client base from around the world. The firm is known for the quality of its work, both in terms of its ability to handle the full range of corporate and commercial matters, and the fact that it can advise its clients on their private affairs.

Challenge

Like most law firms, Macfarlanes had to quickly adapt to widespread and prolonged homeworking when COVID-19 struck. However, when restrictions were lifted, the firm began to return staff to its central London headquarters. This was particularly important for the IT and facilities teams, as being on-site was critical to much of their work.

As part of their return-to-office, these teams implemented a new agile working environment that would better suit their way of working. This saw them bring in a hotdesking system with 40% fewer desks, more collaborative work areas, and bookable facilities. Most team members have the option to work from home for part of the week and the office environment is designed to facilitate collaboration.

However, to make this new setup effective, they needed a system that would help manage bookings and aid collaboration, and time was short, with just four weeks until the team was due to return to the office.

Macfarlanes Return to Office app - Office Booking
Macfarlanes Return to Office app - Floorplan

Solution

The return-to-office process and new workspace arrangements were led by the firm’s CIO, who decided that the best solution was to create an app. This would allow the teams to:

  • See a visual representation of the office
  • See how busy the office would be on any given day
  • Check in upon arrival
  • Check availability and book facilities
  • Read reports on facilities usage

They also wanted to ensure that team members could find each other’s contact details, arrange meetings and generally maintain good communication. Staff use a mixture of Microsoft Surface and Apple iPhone devices, so it was important to find a solution that would work across different platforms.

Macfarlanes had used Fliplet before to develop client-facing apps, so the CIO knew how easy it would be to use its capabilities to create an internal app.

"Fliplet requires very little technical know-how and you don’t need a team to manage it. I haven’t been in a technical role for over 10 years and I built most of the return-to-office app myself in a few evenings."
Andrew Powell
CIO, Macfarlanes

Process

The CIO discussed their requirements with their Fliplet account manager, who recommended a pre-built template that included a staff directory and room booking features. The template required just a few hours of custom development from Fliplet to meet the firm’s specifications. The app was then tested by a small pilot group, and the CIO was able to perform some further modifications using the intuitive Fliplet Studio.

At the same time, Macfarlanes’ applications team linked their HR system to the app, ensuring the directory would always be up to date. Once complete, the IT team tested the app as a soft launch. The CIO publicised it through email announcements and discussed it in their weekly Zoom call. They also pushed the app to employees’ iPhones via InTune and set it up as a favorite in people’s web browsers.

Macfarlanes Return to Office app - People Directory
"The process was actually very efficient: I understood the end-user requirements, so I got to be the main stakeholder, project sponsor and lead engineer all in one!"
Andrew Powell
CIO, Macfarlanes

The app

The app has proved essential for supporting the IT and facilities teams in returning to the office and adapting to the new shared office facilities, and the occupancy reports allow the CIO to monitor the facilities usage across the range of different workspaces to ensure that capacity does not become an issue as more people return to the office.

Collaboration between office users and homeworkers has improved dramatically thanks to the communication aspects of the app.

"Our return-to-office app had to be turned around very quickly, as I had 50 people returning to the office in a month’s time, and had already committed to ripping out the desks!"
Andrew Powell
CIO, Macfarlanes
Macfarlanes Return to Office app - Status Update
Macfarlanes Return to Office app - Bookings Dashboard

Result

The app has helped to give staff in the IT and Facilities teams the confidence to return to the office environment after a significant period away and has received positive feedback, as did the new office layout with its focus on collaboration spaces. Additionally, the directory has been so well received that the firm is considering rolling out that part of the app to the rest of the firm to support better communication across the organization.

What is Fliplet?

Fliplet enables non-technical and technical people to produce mobile and web apps. Fliplet includes a broad selection of app templates that enable organizations to rapidly deliver apps for staff or customers and are distributed to public or enterprise app stores, and online.