Remote Working is not a Dirty Word
In analysis / By Charlotte Tobulevicius / 04 July 2019
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 high percentage shows that law firms have come a long way in recognising the need for this way of working, however there is more that can be done for firms who are still to get on board.
Law firms have been fairly slow with adopting new technology and working practices such as agile working, but there are now several ways for firms to embrace it that remote working is no longer a dirty word and should be fully embraced.
The legal sector is going through a fundamental disruption in terms of technology, with widespread adoption of law tech and increasing automation of legal services and processes. However, for those law firms still to put a strategy in place, there is a danger that they will be left behind.
What has driven the change to remote working?
Over the past few years, there has been increasing pressure for law firms and other professional service businesses to implement a remote working culture, or risk losing talent to the competition. One of the main drivers of this has been the millennial generation and their pursuit of companies who champion 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, there are a whole host of benefits to be taken advantage of; from cost saving and improved efficiency to 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 reap the rewards.
Office premises are getting more expensive, but by adopting an agile or ‘virtual’ office solution, it’s possible to drastically improve your bottom line. Recruiting a mobile workforce will reduce your 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 expose your law firm 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 will 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 in turn can boost employee productivity and ensure that staff feel committed to your company.
Agile working is particularly important for retaining women in law, those who may have taken time out to have children and need a more flexible approach when it comes to continuing with 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 development.
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 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 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 budgeting for technology, as this is where the real benefits are.
Solutions such as secure cloud hosting and Microsoft Office 365 give lawyers the ability to access emails, documents and financial information from anywhere, at any time. Having the ability to seamlessly 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 they be working practice or technology transformations. 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 of data.
Who can help you establish a remote working culture?
Once you’ve made the decision to embrace a remote working culture and get the technology in place to help you do this, it’s important to engage with a supplier who can implement your vision. Relationships are important, especially when it comes to making big changes in a business and handling sensitive data.
You may already have an IT provider but are not sure if they’re the right supplier to help you make the change to agile working, and they may not even provide the technology you now require. This is a conversation you should have at the beginning of the journey, to establish whether your current provider can deliver everything you need; and if you feel like they can’t, it’s important to take steps to eliminate the problem and find the right partner for the project.
In the ICT sector, technology is often viewed as a commodity, something that just works and is assumed as part of a supplier relationship. However, what really sets a provider apart from the competition is the level of service and the enthusiasm to go above and beyond for a client. A good ICT provider relationship should look and feel more like a partnership than a business arrangement. It should add value to a firm through project work and additional services that support specific business objectives, working as one towards a common goal.
When you’ve found ‘the one’, they will become an integral part of your business and will clearly understand the changing technology and security requirements of your clients, whilst spotting ways in which you can add value to them. A good provider will also deliver a flexible solution that doesn’t tie a client to a single supplier, instead offering ‘out’ options should these be needed.
If you'd like to talk to a member of our team about how we can help you to establish remote working practices in your firm, contact us today.