Agile for Customers and Staff
All of these can sit legitimately under the agile banner. Clients are consumers and consumers have seen old worlds reinvent themselves – just think about banking and insurance. Sure, legal has made some strides in recent years in modernising but there is more ground to make up. When you are taking your agile steps, just ensure that it’s a path that delivers for your customers as well as your staff. And while technology will help you achieve your strategy, the technology has to follow, not lead.
Is flexible working now essential in recruiting and retaining legal talent?
“Having worked for a firm that first offered agile working over a decade ago I simply could not contemplate having to work within brick-wall boundaries with fixed hours again.”
The good news is that the maturity of fully managed IT services has made it a lot easier for law firms to put the right technology in play. Hosted desktop solutions, for example, exist to deliver a fast, robust and responsive digital workspace that can be securely accessed from anywhere, whilst offering the same functionality as a traditional PC.
For the user, that means that where they go, their files go, their emails go, their critical applications go – and theoretically it should be quick, safe and compliant. Firms just need to take care to partner with the right provider – one who understands legal, its systems, its culture, its processes, and that has the supporting infrastructure and skillsets – to ensure that what is delivered to it ‘agile’ user base is a consistently first-class experience.
Your teams won’t thank you for offering up the prospect of agile working and a more flexible approach, and then compromising the whole thing through poor technical execution. Your talent wants to give you their best – quality work, high productivity, top-notch client service. If they’re struggling to connect and get what they need, or do what they need to do in a timely fashion, what are they more likely to give you? Their best or their notice?
There’s a new model in town
Law firms are using agile working to create ‘hubs’ or ‘pods’: small group of desks that a team working on projects can gravitate to. Rather than an empty office floor that can be quite bleak with little company culture being built, agile working allows a thriving ‘buzzing’ atmosphere full of energy to work in.
And rather than think in terms of your control over the moving parts of a firm, how about looking at the potential unlocked by your staff having control over their work? If you can make that shift supported by a comprehensive ‘work from home’ policy, the good news is that today’s technology can support agile end-to-end. This article has already explored hosted desktop, so let’s take a quick run through telephony.
Away from their desk – and sometimes even at it – people will turn to their smartphones for fast communication through any media, whether voice conversations, social media apps, email or text. But no-one wants to be juggling different numbers and some would prefer not to expose their private mobile number; and so the first thing is to set up a single landline number tagged to that individual, and a bespoke inbound ‘call-routing’ plan set up. Callers dialling that number will reach the fee earner on their mobile, or be directed according to the pre-set call routing plan – but it will all be presented seamlessly to the caller. As far as they are aware, they are calling you at your desk.
The smartphone is fully integrated at the same level as a laptop, providing access to the firm’s entire global phone address book and client records. This is all retained within an ultra-secure and encrypted ‘container’ on the smartphone. Arriving in their law firm practice, any desk can be chosen to work from in a ‘hot-desking’ fashion, if that’s the office strategy that’s been adopted. Entering a passcode onto the desktop phone enables both desktop phone and smartphone to be ‘twinned’: all inbound calls follow their pre-set call routing plan, and either phone can be chosen to answer.
‘Tag team’ the IT and communications
If the fee earner needs to leave the office while on the call, it can be automatically ‘handed-off’ across to their mobile phone without any interruption. Encrypted call recording tags the entire call across both devices as one and attaches it to the relevant case file where required. The firm’s time and billing platform can also be integrated to ensure no billable talk time is missed. When making outbound calls, the ‘one number’ is presented to the caller regardless of device and location used.
In a further scenario, where a fee earner may stay on to work after a case conference at a client’s office, they can enter their log-on details at that location, and all inbound calls will automatically find them, with the ‘one number’ presented to callers when dialling out. If work has to continue later from the train, alternative practice location or from home, the same seamless experience is continued. And remember, this is super-simple for the user – the underlying technology is complex and clever, but for staff it’s Amazon-like in its ease of use and immediacy, and that’s what will help drive adoption.
Joining it all up
So you have a technology wrap – hosted desktop, seamless telephony, all geared towards a slick user experience – that will let you deploy agile successfully. Stop thinking about the loss of control; focus instead on what you have to gain when it comes to delivering for your staff, your clients, your business, even your carbon footprint.