The workforce is asking for flexibility
Flexible, agile and efficient working environments are rapidly becoming the norm. Embracing flexible working is no longer a taboo, but an expectation. There were more flexible workers last year than ever before and more than 50% of workers now work outside their main office at least two and a half days a week. For highly regulated industries such as legal and financial services, the argument for flexible working is somewhat in dispute. This is in part due to culture; however, the real issue appears to be the highly sensitive data these companies have access to, and the concerns over device security, or even device loss or theft. So, can lawyers work remotely? Many businesses will avoid flexible working in these industries but with the workforce moving away from a conventional office environment, how can the legal industry transform?
Flexible working demands are staggering in general; 70% of workers say that flexible working makes jobs more attractive, 58% of people believe they would feel more motivated working outside the office and 40% of people would choose flexible working over a pay rise. Are lawyers asking for the same flexibility? The answer is yes, in some cases. Some businesses, notably ones that aren’t so heavily reliant on legacy systems to run their day-to-day operations, are able to allow for flexible working.
How are law firms adapting?
Whilst some law firms are still working on their remote working policy, there are some leading the charge. One legal start-up has enabled a better work-life balance through a cut to their pay which according to sources has proved surprisingly popular, and there has also been a rise in consultancy.
A significant benefit of lawyers adapting to working from home ultimately means less office space. Law firms, dependent on the practice, are likely to need to meet with clients. It is possible to do this through technology such as video conferencing, however, sometimes face to face is necessary. When you allow employees to work from home, hot desking is possible in a physical office, allowing you to cut your office size dramatically. If you’re a law firm working in London, this can mean a significant decrease in costs; with West-End office space costing on average between £900-£1,500 a month. Also, it could mean that you can move your office outside of the centre due to less commuting, again, saving cost.
Who’s driving the change?
Despite concerns around security, providing a homeworking option can be highly beneficial both for the firm and the employee. Whilst some firms are making this move naturally, it appears that millennials are significantly driving the change.
Millennials are seeking more flexibility, moving away from the traditional ways of working. With long hours seeming the norm, the graduate workforce is looking for increased flexibility to still put in the hours but from wherever is most convenient. Not only does it benefit billable hours, a work-life balance is more achievable allowing a culture of working from home. Like all other workers, the ability to work from home means no commute into the office, which is ideal if someone has put in the hours until midnight the night before. Having this flexibility is sure to benefit not only the happiness but the health of lawyers going forward. However, whilst the drive might be coming from the millennials, seasoned lawyers are likely to want to adopt this approach too.
Which technologies help law firms enhance flexible working?
Cloud-based Unified Communications are the way forward to enable remote working without losing close-knit relationships and functionality. It’s the ability to have a conversation about a case as and when feels right, whether that’s via an email, text, Microsoft Teams or a traditional phone call. Working from home does not need to mean that you are isolated, providing you have a holistic IT solution that enables remote workers to feel connected.
For some firms, law bot adoption appears to be the next phase in their digital transformation journey. Having bots to levy some of the time-consuming, yet simple work can enable lawyers to work on more complex cases and help manage their work-life balance effectively.