IS IT TIME TO LET EMPLOYEES WORK REMOTELY ON A PERMANENT BASIS?September 21, 2020
CERTAINTY IN UNCERTAIN TIMESSeptember 24, 2020
Taking your practice virtual or investing in cloud-based software is the goal for every firm hoping to exist in the 21st century. Today, with the blink of an eye, remote work and virtual law firms are here to stay.
Perhaps you had dipped your toe in, purchasing a case management software or dabbling in automated email marketing or when the pandemic hit, and you were violently shoved from “it’s on the list” to scrambling to implement all the tools in one fell swoop.
As the dust from the initial rush begins to settle, it’s becoming clear that remote work is here to stay. Many large companies — Google, Facebook, Twitter — have stated they’ll allow employees to elect to work from home permanently, and 40% of workers claim they’ll take up that offer.
The question now becomes, how can I build sustainable processes that optimize my virtual work, versus simply survive it?
Famous basketball legend, Michael Jordan once said that “I have failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
Though technology has been pushing the definition of a “typical workday” for the past several years, most businesses and their employees still operate within an agreed-upon timeframe. The benefit of shared work hours is you can easily access others for information or feedback, as well as separate work time from personal time.
Moving to a virtual office, along with the stress of many working parents needing to adjust their schedules for their child’s schooling, has meant more teams are working asynchronously — at different times. Establishing a virtual office means you must consider not only where you work but also when.
Flexibility is at the top of the ladder for wanting to work from home. Many would argue that the status quo or the system for many years has been to work in an office setting but that has all changed.
Systems are an amazing tool that worked incredibly well 200 years ago during the Industrial Revolution. Systems are exceptionally useful when the work being performed is repetitive (think assembly lines and flipping hamburgers) and doesn’t involve customer interaction, or when the environment is totally stable. But inject a little volatility and human interaction, and systems become your worst nightmare.
Some questions to consider to set yourself and your team up for long-term success in this new model include:
- When do your clients need you?
- Has this changed since the pandemic?
- When does your team need you?
- How many hours of the day are you most productive?
- When do you experience the most distractions?
Upon completing this exercise, it may be that you or your team prefer to work longer hours for a shorter week or need to space out your hours for more on certain days and less on others. You may even discover your clients now need you at non-traditional times. Statistics indicate that more calls are occurring on Tuesdays than Mondays, and weekend call volume has increased, as has the need for 24/7 answering of phone calls and website chats.
The lesson here is to break out of the current workday paradigm and explore the options virtual work can provide. When employees have choices, that flexibility — and the ability to staff up and down to meet changing circumstances — makes the team more efficient and happier in their work.
Universally, the main piece of feedback is that the process of adding software and tools shouldn’t be rushed. Those who had to implement tools quickly due to the pandemic felt their workflows were disrupted more than streamlined initially.
While the need to change quickly can’t be helped, solo and small practice attorneys can successfully integrate tools to limit disruptions and even reduce their workload when we
- Map out your current process.
- Review your process and highlight what areas take you the most time.
- Determine how the service or software integrate into your process.