Post-COVID Challenges Faced by Law Firms – Remote or Hybrid Work
By: Michelle D. Patrick
By: Michelle D. Patrick, Esq.
The COVID pandemic changed the way that many businesses operated. Workplaces providing essential services, such as hospitals and grocery stores operated the way they always have, requiring employees to report to work daily, albeit with new precautions in place. Businesses providing non-essential services, such as law firms, had to adapt to a new model. Many firms discovered that, in large part thanks to technology, it was not essential that employees be in the office to perform their jobs. Zoom meetings, cell phones, laptops, and home offices became essential tools used by employees and employers to keep businesses afloat.
Can Lawyers Work From Home?
The pandemic model of doing business allowed some law firms to save costs, many firms downsized or eliminated physical office space, and to increase their reach across the country and around the globe. However, in a post-pandemic world many law firms are ready for their employees to return to the office full-time. There are good reasons for employees to be in the office including building teams and establishing and maintaining relationships, collaboration opportunities, clear delineation between personal time and work time, the ability to mentor new attorneys more easily, and the ability to monitor productivity more closely. Also, it is challenging and costly to provide remote workers with the software, hardware, and technological support necessary to succeed. For law firms in particular, where maintaining confidentiality of communications and documents is of the highest concern, ensuring that both office and home documents, computers, and electronic devices are protected is a big undertaking. For smaller and medium sized firms, those costs may be prohibitive.
Working from home benefits
While many law firms are seeking to return to a more traditional workday, many employees are no longer interested in the traditional structure where they need to be in the office from 9-5, five days a week. Working from home for over a year showed employees that they could still get their work done while having a better work life balance. Benefits to employees include saving time and money on commuting and having the freedom to attend to personal matters as they arise. Being able to take a walk in the middle of the afternoon, pick a child up from school, take a parent to a last-minute doctor’s appointment, could be done easily while taking a break from work and then logging back on later. In addition, people are productive at different times of the day; remote work allows those who work better late at night or early in the morning to do so.
Working from home challenges
As we navigate a post-pandemic world, the structure of the workday is one of the biggest challenges facing law firms. One of the questions Garcia Legal Search asks attorneys is “what are you looking for in your next role?” Increasingly the answer is that the most important thing to them is the ability to work fully remote or hybrid. Very few are interested in returning to a traditional structure. This is a real challenge for law firms. While increasing salaries and bonuses to entice candidates back into the office may work in some situations, today’s employees are more interested in a work-life balance. Which means that if a firm refuses to entertain either a remote or hybrid model, they run the risk of losing out on highly qualified, productive candidates.Back to Blog&News