How to have an office like Harvey Specter

If you haven’t discovered the delights of Suits yet then stop reading this now and go add it to your Netflix Watchlist (then please come back and read the rest). All with me? Good.

Suits is a slice of TV gold, like Key Lime Pie on a summer’s morning. Witty, intelligent and fun it’s a refreshing counterpoint to the dark and dirty shows of the box set era (think The Wire, Game of Thrones, True Detective, Homeland, The Killing, and so on.)

Suits isn’t like any of these and this is a very good thing. It’s not afraid to laugh at itself, or at others, and doesn’t lose sight of the fact it’s entertainment. To fans, the name Harvey Spectre won’t need any explaining. To others, Harvey is one of the central characters; a force of nature with ego and brains underpinned by a concealed compassion.

As one of the most successful lawyers in New York, Harvey has a pretty special office. Within the context of the show, the office develops it’s own personality and becomes as much a part of the cast as the actors. It’s an extension of Harvey and it’s importance can’t be understated.

Now, I’m in the process of moving into a new office with a fellow Suits fan and while we don’t have the resource, budget or the Michael Jordan signed basketballs of Harvey Specter, we’ve set ourselves the aim of creating an office where we feel at home, where our clients feel welcome and where we can find inspiration.

So we asked ourselves the question: “What would Harvey do?” (#WWHD)

Here’s what we came up with:

Create the right environment. Working in the right environment is everything. And the right environment is finding what works for you, what fits with your business and, most importantly, a place you feel comfortable in. You’re going to be spending a lot of time here (more on that later) so make sure it’s a place you enjoy. If that means heading to eBay to find a vintage record player then do it (we did). The ping pong and foosball tables might be a step too far, what matters is creating an office identity you can relate to, where you can produce great work while having a good time.

Get a Donna. Everybody needs a Donna. Now the chances are Sarah Rafferty who plays Donna (Harvey’s secretary) isn’t going to be available and ‘having a Donna’ isn’t about going out and finding a beautiful red-haired secretary (other makes and models of secretary are available, see Lewis Litt for information on ‘the Norma.’) Having a Donna is about making sure you’re office works. She’s the oil that keeps the whole engine running smoothly and if you want optimum performance you best find some good oil. This means being organised, streamlined and knowing what comes next. Again, find what works for you or your team and stick to it. It might be a virtual project management tool (try Trello) or a big chalkboard (we’ve got one on order). If you can keep your office running smoothly it will free up your time so you can focus on doing what you’re really good at.

Buy some art. Or add a big splash of colour to the walls. It doesn’t have to be Dali but we think something classy will help. Failing classy that first edition print of the Star Wars: A New Hope poster would hit the spot.

Have something to celebrate with. You don’t have to splash out your hard earned cash on an expensive bottle of whiskey (Harvey’s tipple of choice is the Macallan 18, I’d be more tempted by the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve) but having something to celebrate with is a must. It might be chocolate, it might be cake, it might be a beer fridge. Have something near by so you can treat yourself when necessary.

Don’t spend too much time in it. Your office should be a wonderful place and should be a place you enjoy spending time in. Try and keep it that way. Get out and about when you can, take time away from your desk, have meetings off site and all of a sudden the office isn’t a place you dread but a place you want to spend time in.

Studio 201 isn’t quite finished yet but when it is, come in and say hi. The doors are always open, we’ve got a cracking view and once the mini-bar is installed we’ll mix you up an Old Fashioned (different show, but you get the sentiment.)