It has come to a point where for some, working remotely is no longer an option; it is a necessity. Working remotely can definitely have its benefits. At the same time, working remotely can have drawbacks.
What exactly is working remotely?
Working remote means a worker simply doesn’t go into an office to do their job. They can work from home, from a coffee house or diner, a library, or even somewhere relaxing, such as the beach.
While this type of work ethic may sound super chill as it potentially leans more toward the life side of the work-life balance phenomenon, one who chooses, or in increasing instances, has no choice but to work remotely, still has to complete their assignments in a timely manner.
The only difference between onsite work and working remotely is they can stay at home all day to complete their day’s work.
The first thing to note is that the transition is not necessarily an easy one. Chatting to FisherBroyles’s managing partner and co-founder, Kevin Broyles, he shares an anecdote about an institutionalised partner at a top New York City law firm. This partner, having joined the firm in the 1980s, has moved upstate for the duration of the crisis and is working remotely for the first time in his life. And he has no idea how to do it. Without IT support or other staff on hand to help, he is on his own and, if he needs assistance with the technology, he has to get on the phone. But this is an Am Law 100 firm. There are more than 1,000 attorneys and all of them are calling up. It is not just the lawyers either. Support staff who have been working there for decades have come ringing.
Here are a few ways you can turn potential pitfalls into positives through the strategic use of technology and improved employee communication while they work remotely:
Pitfall: Face-to-face client meetings are an essential part of the lawyer-client relationship. With lawyers working from out of the office, options for face-to-face meetings may be restricted.
Potential: Depending on the needs of your employees, it may make sense to have a remote work policy that allows for lawyers to work from home several days a week but requires them to come into the office for scheduled meetings on the other days. This allows for the necessary meetings while giving your team a sense of flexibility and control that will increase their job satisfaction.
If members of your teamwork remotely from a more distant location, such as from a different city, this may in fact increase your options for working with clients. These attorneys or employees can lead work with clients who are in their own geographical area, expanding the area your firm can serve.
Pitfall: Legal work requires reams of documents. When lawyers aren’t gathered together in one office, the necessary documents become harder to access, and the possibility of confusion and miscommunication rises dramatically.
Potential: It’s time to go digital. With programs like Smokeball, law firms can securely organize and store crucial client files in the cloud and access every file, anywhere, all the time. Cloud-based digital filing makes remote work simple and possible. Smokeball also makes the operation of staff in the physical office more efficient, and allows firms to automate basic administrative tasks.
Pitfall: Remote work may come along with added costs when employees need to meet in person as a team or with clients.
Potential: If some members of your teamwork remotely full-time, your firm can save costs on office space, and apply the saving toward these costs. Programs like Smokeball can also help members of your teamwork efficiently on one project even when they are apart, reducing the need for travel and in-person meetings.
Generis Global is designed to enable remote work for lawyers, we have been doing it long before the COVID-19 crisis. We would be delighted to know how you are working remotely. You can send us your feedback here or you can check our opportunities with us here.