Remote Working is not a Dirty Word
A recent report by the Law Society cited that 52% of respondents said they currently worked in an organisation where flexible working was an option. This number shows that law firms have come a long way in recognising the need for this type of working, however there is more that can be done for those firms still to get on board.
Law firms have been notoriously slow when it comes to adopting new technology and working practices such as agile working, but there are now so many ways for firms to embrace this form of working that remote working is no longer a dirty word and should be fully embraced.
The legal sector is experiencing a fundamental disruption in terms of technology, with the widespread adoption of law tech and increasing automation of legal services and processes. There is a danger that some law firms will be left behind if they do not start putting a strategy in place for the evolving legal sector.
What has driven the change to remote working?
Over the last few years, there has been increasing pressure for law firms and other professional service businesses to put a remote working culture in place, or risk losing out to the competition. One of the main drivers of this has been the millennial generation and their quest for agile working, as well as their desire to work in an organisation which echoes the technology they have been using every day of their lives.
Technology has also played a big part in organisations embracing remote working; with new technology, communication tools and collaboration apps making it easier than ever for fee earners to stay connected to the business and their colleagues whilst working from home or on the go.
What is the impact of remote working?
By embracing remote working in your law firm, there are a whole host of benefits to be taken advantage of; from cost saving and improved efficiency to the attraction of talent and competitive advantage. However, simply saying you ‘offer flexible working’ is not enough, your organisation really needs to embrace it and make it part of its culture to fully benefit.
Office premises are only getting more expensive, but by adopting an agile or ‘virtual’ office, you can drastically improve your bottom line. Recruiting a mobile workforce will allow you to reduce overhead costs when it comes to your office and premises, therefore taking the cost pressure off your budget. It will also reduce the need for administrative roles, thus allowing for lower prices for consumers and increased productivity of fee earners.
Attracting and retaining talent is a key issue for law firms at present, but remote working could open your law firm up to a diverse pool of talent both in terms of new recruits and existing staff. People like to feel empowered, and by offering remote working, you give your employees the flexibility to manage their workload and personal life simultaneously; working at times when they feel like they can accomplish the most. Reducing the stress and time of commuting can also have a profound effect on morale, which will, in turn, boost employee productivity and ensure that staff feel committed to the firm.
Agile working is particularly important for retaining women in law, those who may have taken time to have children during their career and need a more flexible approach when it comes to their career. In a survey by McKinsey, 46% of women in law believed their gender played a role in causing them to miss out on a promotion. However, with remote working practices and the right technology in place, women can feel as connected to the workforce as they do in the office, therefore allowing them to have a better work-life balance whilst increasing their chances of career progression.
Embracing remote working can give your law firm the competitive advantage it needs to succeed in this highly competitive industry. With reduced overheads and increased efficiency of your fee earners, your law firm is free to pass on cost-savings to clients which makes you a much more appealing offer than the law firm down the road who is still using pigeon mail.
How can you embrace remote working?
More agile working requires the technology to be in place to allow workers to connect seamlessly with their companies’ systems, resources, applications and files. This is the part where many law firms switch off, they think getting their technological ducks in a row is going to be expensive and time-consuming; but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Technology suppliers have seen the increasing need for flexible working and as a result, now offer more dynamic communication and collaboration tools which allow legal professionals to work from home or on the go. It’s important for Finance Directors at law firms to look at the long-term cost-savings when pricing up the technology needed for remote working, as this is where the real benefits are.
Solutions such as secure cloud hosting and Microsoft Office 365 are now giving lawyers the ability to access emails, documents and financial information from anywhere, at any time. Having the ability to access applications and client data from anywhere, with the same experience as working in an office, means that flexible working doesn’t impact on a firms’ ability to service its clients. It also allows fee earners to better communicate with their clients; sharing files on the fly securely and collaborating live on document changes, while video conferencing with teams across the world.
Is remote working secure?
Security is one of the biggest concerns that law firms have when it comes to making changes, whether that be changes to working practices or technology. Lawyers need to be confident that their devices – both at home and in the office – are secured to the highest levels, and that any data being shared in the cloud or outside of company networks is protected.
Managed IT providers, such as Nasstar, work with law firms to implement the technology, systems and processes to offer more agile working solutions to staff, without compromising on the performance of such systems and the security if data.