The future of the global economy faces uncertain times. COVID has dealt organizations a varied hand; some will have had to let employees go over the last year and operate with a smaller team, for example.
But one defining factor impacted firms of all shapes and sizes and from all sectors - working from home (opens in new tab) (WFH) became part of their overall strategy and looks to stay put for the foreseeable future. Although some businesses will still retain offices, we believe the overall plan will be, people spending only 2 or 3 days in the office. Some businesses will probably close the smaller, regional offices. Having the right infrastructure and technology in place is critical in order to enable employees to WFH effectively, productively and securely. The legal sector is no different in this regard, with remote working a normal way of doing business for the majority of fee earners, but also back office staff too.
As legal firms look to adapt and formulate their strategies for this year and the next, it seems abundantly clear that in a vaccinated world, remote working and WFH will remain ‘normal’ for most people. Clearly, firms need to act so that their people can enjoy remote working productively and securely. The legal sector has always been willing to embrace technology and innovation, allowing forward-thinking firms to increase workforce productivity, especially amongst remote workers. Adopting the correct technologies can also significantly improve the work/life balance for users because reduced downtime means more free time to spend with family and friends.
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Steve Whiter is Director of Appurity (opens in new tab)
Productivity and time management
The current increase in remote working has led to a greater reliance on email. With people spending more time on email, it makes sense to have an email client that allows your people to be more productive. A good productivity (opens in new tab)-focused solution will allow users to send and file emails directly from their email app when they are away from the office. It should also let mobile workers quickly file inbox items to the right matter. Imagine the time saved by being able to do all of this on a train, in the back of a taxi or in a hotel lobby. Turning your people’s downtime into productive time is adding income to the bottom line, it’s allowing top fee earners to maximize billable hours.
Technology can also provide the key for effective time management, another crucial factor when considering ways to boost billing. With people spending more time on email, it makes sense to invest in technology that makes workers more productive. If your remote workers can access everything from one app say, they are more organized and ultimately more productive on their devices. Not being in the office anymore (or rarely so) presents challenges associated with a regimented approach to working. Many have commented on missing the ‘structure’ that a working day in an office environment provides, with a scheduled approach to dividing up the day. The right technology enables people to be able to claw that regimentation back by offering efficient organizing and scheduling tools.
Privacy and security are essential in the legal industry. Any devices used by your people must adhere to strict management and data protection standards - protecting and securing sensitive information is paramount. The convenience afforded by mobility or remote working needs to be tempered by solutions that allow for security, flexibility and management capabilities. In this way the IT guys enjoy peace of mind when it comes to allowing fee earners and back office staff alike, secure access to sensitive case information. Personally-enabled work devices are a viable solution for firms that want their teams to securely access essential case files from mobile devices - employees shouldn’t have to carry personal and work devices. By securing the devices correctly, your IT dept can enjoy an array of controls that essentially mitgates risk but allows people utmost flexibility to work productively. And once fee-earners can start to meet with clients again, the ability to directly and securely access the latest version of any case document will be invaluable.
One of the benefits of remote working (from a firm’s point of view), is increased worker morale. This uplift in morale is perhaps best explained by an improved work-life balance. Indeed, one survey of people WFH due to the pandemic, uncovered that 73% of respondents said that working from home improved their work-life balance - allowing them to spend more time with their family or pets. Get the technology right for your remote workers, and this enhanced work-life balance will boost productivity. Happy workers are productive workers.
Clearly, remote working and WFH are here to stay, in some shape or form, for the majority of the legal sector. But this is not a bad thing. There are reports suggesting that working remotely leads to happier and more productive people - certainly it allows for a healthier work/life balance, but only if the right technology is embraced. By getting as close to the ‘office-working’ experience as possible, firms of all shapes and sizes can look forward to a productive future. Get the technology right and it’s a win-win scenario for everybody.
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