Coffin Mew: Workplace Transformation and the Next Generation Employee

Charlotte Allery and Liz Cheaney consider how the days of being chained to a desk in an office from 9-5 awaiting promotion are long gone – the calls for flexibility, trust and empowerment in the workplace are getting louder.

The workplace has and will always remain a place of change; innovation, technology, new products and ideas keep businesses at the very top of their game.  Now, attracting and retaining the best talent means examining the way we work and the way we reward staff is crucial.

The next generation entering the labour market is looking for more than just a wage and expect their employers to offer alternative ways of working and benefits. For example, statistics released by Circle Research and Vodafone reveal that just under half of the graduates interviewed would switch jobs in order to have more flexible working opportunities, and two-thirds of millennials starting their career wanted to be able to work flexible hours.

Importantly, given the instant reactivity of the technology and platforms they use, the next generation workforce seeks recognition and are often independent, competitive and are more inclined to want to work on their own terms, such is the rise of the gig economy. And unlike the calls in the 2000s for a greater work-life balance, employees increasingly look to work-life integration, where home and work blend seamlessly together.

It is a case of terms over title; the benefits and workplace ethos are more important than the job title they achieve or whether they make partner. Whilst pay remains significant, the non-financial benefits, the empowerment and responsibility they are given over the way they work, and how they are treated in the office is equally important. See the office of Innocent Smoothies, with a rock-climbing wall and ping-pong tables to take time away from work and de-stress, and the likes of Virgin and Netflix who empower their workforce with the ability to take unlimited annual leave.

Of course, what this means in practice will be very different in every business and in every sector, and the nature of the professional services industry does mean it is difficult to replicate all of the initiatives of other, more relaxed sectors. However, professional services’ firms should still be reviewing their employee value proposition to see if it meets the current demands of the next generation of talent.

Liz Cheaney, Director of HR at Coffin Mew adds: “Workplace transformation requires an understanding that employees across all generations have busy, often hectic lives, exacerbated by “always on” technology and the challenges of the daily commute. Everyone’s health and well-being at work are enhanced by choice – choice around workstyle, workplace and benefits. However, the greatest challenge for employers is being able to balance the needs of employees with the needs of clients and customers and to ensure quality and productivity is optimised. Truly understanding your clients’ needs and your employees’ needs is at the heart of any successful workplace transformation. Being flexible enough to try new approaches and then refine them to fit your own culture, strategy and goals are key.

At Coffin Mew, we surveyed our staff to find out what terms they really value and introduced a number of adaptions to our value proposition with increased choice, including new home-working opportunities, the introduction of a full-time dress down policy, an additional day’s leave for birthdays, enhanced maternity leave benefits and new paternity leave provision, helping to overturn out-of-date childcare stereotypes.”


Charlotte Allery
Employment Solicitor & Technology Sector Member
Charlotte Allery is a Solicitor in the Employment team at Coffin Mew and deals with a wide range of issues for both employers and employees on both contentious and non-contentious workplace matters, e.g. exiting staff, disciplinary issues and grievances, drafting of contracts and policies and business immigration. Charlotte is passionate about helping start-up businesses and providing advice to ensure new companies deliver their potential. She is also a member of the firm’s cross-practice Technology Sector team.


Liz Cheaney
Director of HR & Communication
Liz is the Director of HR & Communication at Coffin Mew. Liz’s role is to act as a strategic business partner with the Partnership, CEO and other functional Directors in order to lead and deliver a commercially focused HR and internal communications direction for the Firm. Liz has worked for leading international and SME professional service firms in accountancy, law and investment banking for more than 25 years. She has a personal and professional interest in developing employer policies to improve the gender balance around caring roles and responsibilities and the positive impact change in this area will have on the careers and home lives for all.

Coffin Mew

Coffin Mew

Coffin Mew
Coffin Mew is an innovative and entrepreneurial regional law firm with offices across the South and Thames Valley areas. They advise entrepreneurs, privately-owned organisations and their owners and private landowners as they manage their commercial risk, people, corporate structures and transactions, estate and property management, and wealth management.