Work from home and hybrid working is here to stay for many legal professionals. The process and pitfalls of staying productive if you are a work-from-home attorney are many and varied.
After working remotely for the past year and a half or more, you may find yourself facing challenges that threaten to turn the thin line we call work/life balance into a blurry, unsecured border.
Hold onto your edge, and your sanity, by implementing these five good habits as soon as possible.
Good habit #1: Create a remote working routine
One of the most widely recommended good habits is creating a working routine and sticking to it. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your mind and body have become accustomed to the rhythms of your professional life.
These routines help us transition from our roles at home into the positions of our profession.
Throw off your morning routine, and the whole day can start wrong. Be mindful of your daily schedule and hold it dear. The actions and activities that define your workday will, to a large degree, define your success when working at home.
Good habit #2: Leave work in your home workspace
Leaving work in your home office is a critical piece of the routine you just read about.
Your mental health and stamina require maintaining a work/life balance and not working 24/7 just because you can.
Set boundaries on how much of your job can extend into your home life. Unless your role demands a great deal of accessibility, do your best to maintain the same boundaries at home that you would in the office.
One great way to do this is to make it clear when your day is ending. Tell relevant peers when you’re signing off and set your status accordingly. Then, once in “home mode,” stay there. If the work can wait, it should, and your boss knows how to reach you if it can’t.
Good habit #3: Remain accessible when you’re working
Can a lawyer work from home and still be accessible? Yes, of course. But don’t forget to set healthy boundaries.
You need to maintain the availability and connections you have with your coworkers. So, log on to your law firm’s collaboration tools each day. For clients, make sure they know how to reach you and the best time and ways to communicate with you — keeping in contact matters most when the casual interactions of a shared workspace no longer happen.
If you manage a team, consider establishing a morning stand-up meeting of 15-30 minutes to share daily priorities and roadblocks on the horizon. Of course, everyone has different needs and preferences regarding communication. Still, it’s essential to establish new norms so that people know when and how to contact you just like they would in the office.
Good habit #4: Reimagine your remote workspace
One potential benefit of remote work is that the distractions of the office can all but disappear.
Of course, it’s easy to fall into bad habits when working from home, but many people enjoy improved productivity as a major benefit of remote work.
Take advantage of the opportunity to regain your focus if you feel you need to make some adjustments. Reimagine your workspace. Now that you’ve spent time working remotely, think about your workspace in your home; what could be improved to maximize productivity? Do you need a sit-stand desk? Different lighting? A larger or smaller desk? More comfortable chair? Plants?
Take some time to redecorate, redo, and reinvent your workspace if it will help you get refocused or help you set healthy “work mode” versus “home mode” boundaries.
Good habit #5: Stay on top of technology and industry trends
By now, you are probably comfortable with video conferencing, sharing your screen, and collaborating in the cloud.
Technology is ever-changing. Keeping up with the industry trends in technology will help you and your firm stay up to date, which will help your colleagues and clients.
Today’s business and legal technology is perfectly capable of supporting your practice outside of the office, but you must know how to use the cutting-edge tools at hand. So, sign up for that webcast, look for the “product support” sections of websites, and ask Google before you ask a millennial.
You’ll be surprised how much great content is out there waiting to help.
Above all else, pay attention to your situation. What works? What doesn’t work? What habits need to be changed, modified, or reset? Then, as you face the days ahead, stay aware of any new habits you’re creating and adjust accordingly to ensure you’re doing right by your mind, body, and clients.