As the pandemic continues, the demand for telework in the legal industry remains strong. Remote work arrangements don't just keep both lawyers and clients safe, they increase flexibility and employee satisfaction.
Before the lockdown, more than 50% of legal professionals preferred to work from home one or two days per month. Now, up to 40% want to implement telework at least twice a week.
Law firms are now considering whether to keep telework policies after the pandemic or return to the "old" normal.
Should Your Team Return to the Office Once the Pandemic Wanes?
Once you have a choice to bring your legal team back to the office, you must decide whether it's reasonable. To make the right decision, consider the pros and cons of maintaining the telecommuting approach.
- The majority of surveyed lawyers prefer teleworking at least once or twice per week. It can add flexibility to their planning and increase productivity.
- Offering a work-from-home option can help attract top talent. You can also increase satisfaction rates of your current team and decrease turnover rates.
- By keeping your team at home, you can eliminate the need for office space, thus cutting costs.
- The time your legal team spends on commuting to the office can be rerouted to interacting with clients and managing paperwork. It also relieves the stress employees experience when stuck in traffic jams or running late for meetings.
- With a telework option available, you can choose from a wider talent pool. For some positions, you wouldn't have to limit your choice to geographical locations.
- Socialization is a big part of the office routine. Some employees may be unhappy if you eliminate it from their lives.
- In-person learning and collaboration process can be tough to replace even with the highest quality video conferencing and communication software. Some employees may feel lost without the ability to interact with other team members face-to-face.
- By eliminating the office, you lose a centralized area for handling intake.
Luckily, several ways exist to mitigate the problems with telework.
Implementing the Telecommuting Model
Since the numerous benefits of remote work for law firms are hard to ignore, minimizing disadvantages can help you hold on to the telecommuting model.
1. Hybrid Model
Since the majority of lawyers are happy with working from home several days a week, you can implement a hybrid model. Legal professionals can alternate workdays to eliminate the need of the entire team to be in the office at once.
Even though such a solution doesn't remove the real estate footprint entirely, you can still cut costs by renting or buying a smaller office space.
2. Virtual Socialization
While in-person interaction is hard to replace, virtual socialization can become a reasonable alternative. By providing your legal team with appropriate communication tools and hardware, you can satisfy employees who miss socializing.
By establishing a regular communication schedule, you can ensure fruitful collaboration between team members and present opportunities for informal chatting.
You may need to invest in communication software and hardware for your team as well as establish new work guidelines and security measures. If not handled properly, virtual communication can jeopardize data security.
3. Legal Call Center
To solve the problem with a centralized area for handling intake, you can delegate the task to a legal call center. Their intake specialists can handle intake 24/7/365, so you don't need to worry about being in the office to answer the phone.
By taking advantage of the call center solution, you don't have to deal with complex call forwarding procedures, which usually allow leads to slip through the cracks.
Telework is the New Normal
According to a Loeb Leadership survey, 67% of legal professionals would like to keep working from home even after it's safe to come back to the office. To accommodate the growing demand for telework (even if it's once or twice a week), many legal firms are planning to keep telecommuting as part of their day-to-day operations.
The drawbacks that come with making telecommuting your firm's new normal can be minimized by implementing a hybrid model, investing in virtual socialization, and delegating intake to a legal call center.
How do you know if you’ve found the right legal call center? Check out our guide to vetting legal call centers.