In the spring of 2020, many law firms — like other businesses — were forced to adopt new systems.
In those early days, many of us expected the disruption to be relatively brief, and “back to normal” was nearly everyone’s goal. But after 18 months of remote or hybrid work and growing comfort with the new tools and processes that make it possible, many firms are reconsidering what “normal” should look like.
Here are four reasons going permanently hybrid might benefit your firm, your attorneys, and your staff:
1. A hybrid model allows greater flexibility for attorneys and staff to work in the way that works best for them.
That means increased productivity. It’s important to keep in mind that different people work differently, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to what’s most efficient. In fact, when Microsoft recently surveyed 160,000 workers across a range of geographic locations and roles about whether they would prefer to return to the office or continue to work remotely, the response split. More significantly, 58% of those who said they’d prefer to continue remote work cited better focus as a key reason. So did 58% of those who wanted to return to the office. There’s no single right answer when it comes to optimizing employee efficiency.
A hybrid model gives employees greater flexibility to be their best on the job. And, it allows for breaking out tasks in the most efficient way — for instance, spending a day or two in the office meeting with clients and conferring with co-workers, then a couple of days at home digging into drafting, research, case strategy, and other more solitary endeavors that benefit from isolation.
2. Many tasks can be performed just as effectively remotely.
Late last year, McKinsey Global Institute published the results of an analysis of 2,000 tasks as they’re performed in 800 jobs in nine countries around the world. The goal was to determine how much of our work lives were rightly “tethered to the office,” and what percentage could be handled just as well from home or some other location.
The verdict: More than 20% of the workforce could work remotely three to five days a week just as effectively as they do in the office. Of course, that’s heavily weighted toward certain types of tasks. But, so is the legal profession. McKinsey determined that 82-91% of tasks related to learning and updating knowledge could be performed remotely, along with 70-75% of computer work, 43-63% of communication with colleagues and clients, and 39-52% of administrative duties.
3. A hybrid model can save your law firm money.
During the pandemic, many law firms and other businesses took a hit as they paid rent and other expenses associated with office space that was largely sitting empty. That unnecessary expense during a difficult time was frustrating, but it was also eye-opening for many firms. If firms were operating successfully with little or no time in the office, did it really make sense to devote such a significant chunk of the budget to real estate? Many say no.
In response to Cushman & Wakefield’s annual legal sector survey, 73% of law firms said they expected to reduce square footage in the coming years. 82% of firms responding to the same survey said they expected at least some of their attorneys to be using “hoteling” in the next five years. “Hoteling” involves a reservation system for in-office space, as opposed to an assigned office or desk for each attorney. Condensing space by allowing attorneys and staff to work from home some or all of the time can increase your law firm’s bottom line by cutting down real estate costs.
4. Employee expectations are changing.
In most industries, including the legal industry, it’s been long accepted that holding a full-time job meant showing up to the office at a specific time each weekday and staying for 8 or 9 or 10 (or more) hours. Just as management of law firms and other businesses discovered over the past 18 months that there are other ways to get the job done, employees have discovered that they can make valuable contributions to their employers without long commutes, outside child care, and other complications of onsite work.
In fact, many have discovered that with more sleep, less stress, and less to juggle, they’re able to perform better at work and take better care of themselves and their families. Many are not eager to return to the old way, and many businesses are prepared to accommodate. With worker shortages continuing, law firms may find that adaptability is a requirement for recruiting the best talent.
Of course, effective remote working arrangements depend on having the right tools in place–tools that allow easy access to information, seamless document collaboration, and other hassle-free coordination with co-workers.
Here’s what one of our customers recently had to say:
“I can’t say enough good things about Neos. We received great support and training and the data and document transfer went flawlessly. After three months of using Neos online and during this pandemic crisis, we are very blessed that we were able to work from home or even from anywhere now without having to remote into the office.”
— Sunny Vongtip, Ketterman Rowland & Westlund
We’re proud to have been able to help many law firms smooth the transition during the pandemic and continue to adapt their businesses as the legal industry finds its “new normal.” To learn more about our cloud-based case management platform, Neos, view this page or contact us today.