Over the last 16 months we’ve seen law firms adjusting to a flexible working schedule. With a very high percentage of staff having been successfully working remotely through necessity during the pandemic the emerging working patterns are incorporating both office and remote working.
Some firms have found the adjustment awkward particularly if they had only known a more traditional way of working, 9-5 Monday to Friday, from the office. However, over time, with some trial and error, they have begun to appreciate the many different benefits of a more flexible workday and work environment.
One of the main benefits we have identified is that firms are able to access a far larger talent pool to draw new recruits from. Whereas travel to work time on a five-day week would limit the realistic commuting times, people are more likely to be comfortable with a longer commute if it is only 2 or 3 days a week. In some cases, working totally remotely clearly removes all commute distance issues and provided there is adequate broadband coverage you can be anywhere in the world.
Firms offering well-organised, remote working options are making the job benefits section of their Job specification far more attractive to a larger audience. Highlighting that you can offer genuine flexibility will appeal to many who have found a new balance in the way they combine work and home life in their chosen career. Any advantage gained in making your firm more attractive to work for has to be a major benefit in terms of staff recruitment, wellbeing and productivity.
Since the easing of lockdown many firms have introduced hybrid working arrangements for their staff where employees split their time working both in the office and at home. A popular arrangement being 2 days in the office, 2 days working remotely and the employee’s choice for the fifth day. They have introduced new working areas in the office with hot desking facilities and generally more open spaces. Many of our clients have chosen to work core hours, ensuring that their staff are able to take client calls/ zooms during set hours, and then they can make up the remainder of the workday during their preferred hours. Our clients have mentioned that this has helped improve work quality, productivity, and staff happiness.
Remote working as part of a flexible working scheme has another major benefit in that video conferencing has became far more widely used and this has delivered a massive time saving, and in some cases, greater interaction between colleagues and clients. Some would say there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction and that is probably always going to be debated but video conferencing undoubtedly cuts down on time and cost spent travelling and vastly improves the speed with which gatherings can be arranged.
The pandemic has alerted us all to the need to be more aware of how easy it is to take simple precautions that have a profound effect on the reduction of future such outbreaks. Working remotely is a big part of the way we will continue to reduce the opportunity for virus transmission, so remote working, flexible work patterns and hybrid work models are here to stay. Embrace it, invest in technology to ensure a seamless interface wherever your staff log on, invest in staff wellbeing, invest in video presentation skills training and make it work for your firm.
Many thanks to Mark Day, CEO Law South, for his observations on the subject which were particularly helpful.