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Remote working and reduced hours equal the lawyer of the future

by Jonathan Ashley, co-founder of etiCloud

I read with interest the article: ‘Lawyers want remote work and even reduced hours, find survey’ on The Law Society Gazette this week. From a personal perspective I can totally empathise with this sentiment but it’s slightly more complex from a business angle, right?

The survey in question was implemented by Thomson Reuters and found that “86% of UK lawyers would like to change the way they work in future” and that “attitudes to remote working were much more positive in the UK than the rest of the world.” There are, of course, positives and negatives to this narrative; just take a look at the comments section of the article.

Several people gave feedback on their experience of working from home and, in the most part, it appears that most were happy with it. They felt they were more productive having more time to spend on files which is of clear benefit to the client and, ultimately, the bottom line of the firm. Overall wellbeing was improved with the chance to take a ‘proper’ break from work by, for example, spontaneously taking a walk. Those with caring duties also welcomed the flexibility of remote working. And then there is the wider discussion around the annual (and associated) costs of renting prime office space and could that money be better spent elsewhere in the firm.

Conversely, other individuals noted that certain staff were less efficient, and a number stated that they missed the social aspect of working in an office, something that is impossible to replicate in the home environment. Furthermore, these negative elements were underlined as the survey revealed that “a third of senior lawyers would leave their firm in the next two years if more flexibility could not be arranged.” Could a lack of flexibility within a firm really have an impact on employee retention and, indeed, recruitment?

A ‘one size fits all’ way of working is clearly no longer appropriate, rather individual firms must focus on getting the right balance to suit their employees. Perhaps a bespoke approach for each employee could be the way forward?

Remote working is undoubtedly here to stay, something we have been saying for some time here at etiCloud, even before the pandemic hit. The so-called ‘hybrid model’ is what our clients are now currently refining as we travel along the roadmap out of lockdown. And they are all ideally placed to implement a highly successful hybrid because they already have our Agile Digital Workplace. The devil, however, will be in the detail and I will be interested to learn more about the specifics of each firm’s hybrid in due course.

Since our clients have an agile infrastructure in place, we can support them from an even more strategic perspective, adding value by delivering a seamless service and helping them to enhance their clients’ experience across the board. As such, you can probably imagine that I was also very pleased to read that senior UK partners feel that their firms should be investing more in technology!

If you take all the above into account, what it boils down to is that we must explore every opportunity to make every UK lawyer more productive, more efficient and more content by exploiting the very latest lawtech available. We’re on it!

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