A significant effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for businesses to implement remote work protocols at a quick pace. In a span of weeks, companies and organizations were sent home by choice or by government mandates. Some large law firms might already have the protocols in place or have already started developing flexible work setups, but some firms might be confronted by remote work for the first time.
If your firm is just shifting to working from home, you may check this article here on how you can make your firm’s transition to working from home easily.
What does it mean to work remotely?
Working remote means simply not needing to go into an office to do a job. One can work from home, from a coffee shop, a library, or even on a beach. Despite being a relaxing alternative, one of course should achieve a work-life balance, and make sure they complete their tasks on time. Now that working remotely is a necessity that organizations face, a firm must accept this new culture, as it is likely that it is here to stay.
What are the benefits of working remote for attorneys?
- Time Saving. The remote worker does not waste time commuting to work every day and staying at the office into the late hours to wait for the traffic to subside. They tend to be more productive, and at home the only commute they need to do is to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.
- More billable hours. Because of the time saved from commute, this means retaining more energy, and one can do more work or even multitask with less distractions.
- Less stress. Working at home means less pressure – there are no bosses and co-workers who might get into a worker’s space. No distractions mean having the freedom to adjust at their own pace and increasing their focus, resulting in a more productive workday.
- It’s more economical. No commute means no spending for gasoline or having no need to have their own vehicle for work.
- Increased flexibility. A lawyer who works remotely is more accessible because they aren’t stuck in an office. They can choose when to meet clients (virtually and physically), whether it be over breakfast or lunch meetings.
How can working remotely impact a law firm?
Attorneys can save a lot of money just by reducing the office space they need. The result of having a more mobile workforce would also mean that clients don’t need to run to an office – they can meet at a nearby coffee shop or an independent workspace instead. The firm can then save money on operating expenses, interior design, appliances, computers, and even on office perks.
The fact is that attorneys must have their own computer or laptop to work on, must acquire their own software, and must adjust to meeting their client’s in new environments. It won’t be easy to change a law firm’s whole system, and old clients might have a harder time adjusting to the new change.
Not to fret, because there are systems and rules in place that a law firm can follow to ease the transition. Here are some tips and tricks for law firms who are shifting to remote work:
First, acquire the right tools and home office needs
Applications and software are needed for collaboration and communication, security, and everyday tasks. They could be apps for document sharing, chat, and video conferencing. Training a team before sending them to their homes would make things easier.
Speaking of making things easier, a firm can also upgrade their IT support by hiring an MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider) to provide security, assess risks, and monitor their employees. Any device connected to the internet is at risk, and with confidential firm data being taken out of the office, an MSSP can make sure that no breaches occur. An MSSP can also supply the firm with the right tools and software, which means that the lawyers don’t need to worry about their apps not being optimized or updated.
The importance of video conferencing software
Video meetings are essential for any workplace – they also must be reliable so it can be used often for any meeting. Choose one video software that every employee can access. There are options such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meets or Zoom. Staff should be prepared to use the technology and be briefed with the proper video conferencing etiquette. It is important to have the right equipment (stable internet connection, good quality headphones, a clear mic) so the meeting would go smoothly without any issues.
Taking care of client files
Going virtual also means going paperless – done gone are the days when piles and piles of paperwork are stacked on lawyer’s desks or left to gather dust in storage. A law firm should have a single source of client information and files. Make sure the employees are equipped with scanners, to eliminate paper as much as possible. Keeping your file storage secure is also a challenge, and this can be remedied by an MSSP.
A stable internet connection is a must
Working at home means that an employee is now dependent on their home internet to handle their tasks for the virtual law firm. Other people at home are also using the internet, so they should make sure to check their bandwidth or upgrade it if the speed is not enough.
Maintain a good home office setup
Even at the comfort of their homes, lawyers must look professional in front a webcam. Make sure to have good lighting, tidy background, and a webcam with a quality display. A workspace should be organized so it will be easier to find things for work. One can also personalize the space to yield maximum comfort and productivity.
Staff should take note of the firm’s processes
The firm should have a system and a method that they can teach employees and clients to follow in order to manage information and data effectively. This is so that things can be found easily, and the system remains transparent for more effective communication. It is important for a team to communicate more, especially at the beginning of remote work. It helps limit isolation and keeps projects and goals on tracking check.
Develop and maintain a remote company culture.
Working remotely can be successful through proper communication. Being adaptable to employees and updating outdated policies could also ensure that there are mutual benefits between the firm and its staff. Additionally, putting extra effort into setting up the employees and trusting them to do their jobs can help set expectations for both the firm and its employees.
For a firm to be successful in converting to remote work, the answer is to make sure all the practices of the law firm are considered. A virtual law firm is also like a virtual community where one can thrive with the help of others. Technology is the foundation of this evolving workplace culture, and the best way to keep it healthy is to be connected and staying aware of a firm and a client’s needs.