Instituting More Remote Work: Why Mess with a Good Thing?

For several months, employees around the world have kept businesses operating from the comfort of their homes. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to implement work-from-home plans virtually overnight, and the past several months have allowed us to test the effectiveness of having a remote staff. The results have shown that not only can remote work be done for many departments, including the legal department, but it can also generate greater productivity.

For example, without a commute, there is less time spent on transportation and more time spent working. Legal team members can start their workday right away if they choose—and continue working well into the evening hours. Reports suggest that work-life balance is currently low, and people are working like crazy because there is little else to do. However, even under “normal” circumstances, legal team members have commented on how much more productive they can be without a daily commute to the office. In an industry where every minute is usually tracked and accounted for, giving two hours back into an attorney or a paralegal’s day allows for improved productivity and less time lost to a daily commute.

Remote opportunities also allow an employer to interview a better selection of high-quality candidates. Most legal professionals prefer to work remotely, and the commute no longer impacts the candidate’s decision. Moreover, candidates are likely to accept lower salaries when daily transportation costs are not a factor. The outcome is a win-win, because it allows employers to find ideal candidates at lower salaries and offer a work arrangement that is ideal for most candidates.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has introduced new ways of building and maintaining relationships. In addition, it has introduced new efficiencies to help teams get their work done. Team members can now work remotely and stay engaged or connected with colleagues through Microsoft Teams, instant messaging software, and video conferencing platforms. Moreover, videoconferencing software has allowed teams to physically see each other and use screen sharing capabilities to discuss projects in real time. Office 365 products, Google Docs, and other similar programs allow teams to draft and edit documents together since they can see changes made to the document and share their notes virtually. These types of software have helped teams streamline their processes and keep projects on task.    

Going forward, working from home will continue to be essential for employees as the current public health crisis remains unpredictable and ongoing. For example, social distancing continues to be advised. For those who sit in cubicles or take public transportation, like the subway in New York City or the Metro in D.C., social distancing is a difficult ask to comply with. The Wall Street Journal released an article suggesting that 2.1 million employees quit their jobs in May due to COVID-19 concerns. Until there is more certainty, and the logistics can be easily worked out, keeping your legal team at home makes sense because it is safe and productive.

Simply put, companies can greatly benefit from offering remote opportunities to prospective candidates and allowing their current employees to continue working from home. In terms of prospective candidates, companies will have a better selection of new talent, and it will likely be available at a lower cost. Companies will not only gain access to a better selection of talent but will experience increased productivity and better retention as employees feel safer and less stressed. In terms of current employees, allowing employees to continue working remotely shows the company’s commitment to keeping employees and consumers safe.

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