We should stop calling it remote working. We aren’t remote, we are connected with a broader and more resilient network than ever before.
Many firms are finding themselves forced to consider a return to fully remote working – or at least a hybrid model. Understandably, they have some concerns. Fatigue has set in for many employees. Some firms are finding it hard to maintain the transparent communication practices that worked so well in 2020 and this is taking its toll on their team.
At LEX, we’ve been working from home and supporting attorneys working outside the office for 12 years. We’ve been able to observe what works best for different teams, and how leaders can prepare their employees for the shift online.
Not remote – Connected
We should stop calling it remote working. Remote makes you think of the distance separating you from your team. But working away from the office doesn’t have to be isolating if you have the right technology.
With messaging, file sharing, and video conferencing tools, you can share information and collaborate just as fast as you could from the office. We aren’t remote, we are connected with a broader and more resilient network than ever before.
Offering more flexible hours is a great way to make working from home a success. By choosing to work around potential distractions, attorneys can select their most productive hours without sacrificing family and rest time. With increased concerns around attorney burnout, flexible working hours can be an important step to taking this seriously.
Some firms may worry about organizing meetings and consultations around flexible working. A solution can be to agree on core hours. Even core hours of 11 – 3 give lawyers plenty of time to collaborate and meet, while you might find that clients appreciate less traditional working hours in organizing early or late consultations and calls.
Messaging software solutions
Use software to open lines of communication between employees. And no, I don’t mean email. Email has its place, but it is not designed for quick questions or sending links. Just as you might stop by someone’s desk in the office to ask an informal question, you need to ability to send secure, work-related chats from home.
There are a huge number of software alternatives for professional instant messaging. Selecting the right one for your firm is important, but also important is establishing an open messaging culture. Your employees will likely follow your example, so use your messaging software as you would like everyone else to. I use our LEX Reception app to chat with colleagues from anywhere and create specific groups to connect multiple team members on a particular topic.
Be as responsive as you can, both internally and with your clients. In these uncertain times, many people are looking for reassurance. It has never been more important to acknowledge receipt of messages, send short updates, and organize regular check-ins.
Potential clients are more impatient than ever before. Make sure that whether people choose to contact you by phone, live chat, web form, or email, they can reach a real person who can handle their concerns with empathy.
Your support team
If working from anywhere feels too much, find your support. Hybrid or work-from-home models are new to most people, and just like any new experience, it takes adjustment to become good at it. There are many services and tools designed specifically for lawyers that can help you save time, be more responsive, and deliver impressive client service from anywhere.
Just as you wouldn’t expect your clients to understand every aspect of their case before they come to you, you’re not expected to immediately be a work-from-home expert. To thrive as a firm that works from anywhere, you’ll need to establish a collaborative culture based on efficient tools and a strong support team.