The face of legal practice has been altered considerably because of the pandemic. One of the most notable effects has been the number of legal professionals who now see remote and hybrid working arrangements as normal.
Most firms widely adopted the remote model as a means of coping, but in the post-pandemic society, it is now informing a new situation where remote work and hybrid arrangements are preferred.
Why legal professionals may resist return to office policies
The legal profession is such a 24/7, hands-on practice. It’s difficult for attorneys to be off the grid even when working from home. This is one of the reasons that many firms insist on having their legal professionals return to the office.
When evaluating the success of remote working for legal professionals, consider it from three perspectives; the firm’s, the attorney’s, and the client’s.
According to the Thomson Reuters Stellar Performance Survey from 2021, 59% of law firm lawyers said that working from home positively impacted their overall well-being and job performance, and 84% of legal decision-makers admitted to not being frustrated due to their lawyers being outside of their work environment. The survey also showed that client experience had not been greatly affected by the pivot towards remote work.
Attorneys are also drawn to the prospect of less commuting; the opportunity to not hop on a train, pay for parking space, or get home late because of the commute is incredibly attractive to legal professionals. It informs their clamor for more remote working opportunities. Clearly, getting your employees back into the office would take some convincing.
Motivating legal professionals to return to the office
Many legal professionals, who are productive working remotely, are hesitant to return to the office. Some may feel that the push for office return is an ego play by partners, while others think it signals a lack of trust in their ability to operate efficiently from home.
As with most things legal, these professionals need to hear a superior argument as to why they should return. Here are some valuable points you may need to emphasize.
Advance lawyer careers through face-to-face mentorship
If your law firm already has a solid mentorship program, then this is a great time to emphasize its benefits or to create one If your firm does not have it.
Mentorship is quite different from supervision though the same senior lawyer can perform both functions. Supervision is more about legal work done during billable hours, but mentorship is more about helping your employees on more personal matters, helping them understand how to advance within the firm, or how to build profitability as an attorney.
Spark law firm innovation through in-person connection
For all the benefits that remote work brings, there is a high chance that your employees are missing the human connection with their colleagues. It is difficult to build a vibrant atmosphere and culture over Zoom. Your employees need to be reminded of the importance of in-person connection.
One impromptu conversation and argument over a legal issue happening between colleagues can teach more than a training session would. Also, colleagues can learn by observing each other’s work and asking questions about their strategies. This connection is what builds togetherness and upholds a firm’s brand.
Having in-person collaboration and brainstorming is also a great benefit of personal connection that cannot happen via the internet or a phone call.
Not many people can talk about work for hours on the phone, but most attorneys can brainstorm for hours in person. These brainstorming and collaboration sessions often yield some of the greatest legal strategies. Legal professionals should be keen on getting back to that brainstorming table as quickly as possible.
Boost morale through office events
Working remotely is often amazing for a while, and then morale begins to drop. Chances are that your attorneys are already feeling the strain. One amazing way to boost morale is by organizing energizing events around the office.
Whether it is an event to symbolize the start of the baseball season or having a Friday cheese party, the idea is to get everyone in the same room and foster stronger relationships. These events are often attractive enough to get your employees back in the office. These events boost morale, and the effects often trickle down to overall productivity and profitability.
Exploring other law firm talent retention strategies
Legal professionals are testing the market, with many resigning and many more moving to other firms for better pay or better work-life balance. The push for more remote working systems is strong and is unlikely to die down. With carefully considered strategies and clear communication, you can strike a healthy balance of in-office and remote work for your firm.