Come to think of it, the remote working model isn’t new to lawyers. They’ve been working in their cars, on the road, in courts, at their client’s offices, and from home for decades. The term mobile lawyers sound familiar, right? The only difference with the current workplace paradigm shift is that the hybrid model has redefined the law firm ecosphere in totality.
The hybrid working model incorporates both working remotely and in the office. Since it’s now the new work model, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, law firms have quickly realized that the work environment dynamics are beyond their dictates — it even defies the business partners and support staff. Subsequently, the bone of contention is no longer about supporting remote working but managing and supporting the entire team.
The objective questions have shifted from, why are they working from home, to how can we achieve productivity with this new work environment plan?
According to a recent survey, the hybrid working model is the new normal in the legal industry. Even after it was deemed safe to return to work, 70% of the workforce still wished to keep working remotely, at least partially. Another research shows that 71% of employees are more receptive to the new hybrid setting. The statistics also indicate that the legal industry will likely permanently adapt to the hybrid work plan.
However, the hybrid working model isn’t without challenges. While working remotely has boosted productivity by over 55%, in-office work is equally important because physical interactions strengthen communication and project management, meaning work can be done in a shorter turnaround time.
This article uncovers:
- The challenges legal firms have with staying profitable with the hybrid working model.
- The key benefits of implementing a hybrid plan in your law firm.
Hybrid Working Model Challenges in Legal Firms and Their Solutions
Even with the numerous pros, the hybrid working plan still faces some challenges in the legal industry. Here are four potential hurdles and their solutions.
- Technology and Infrastructure
This shift requires tight cloud-based security since it overly relies on technology to communicate with each other and the clients. Using online platforms requires robust cyber security measures. You must also consider the downtime caused by IT disruptions, like poor equipment and slow Wi-Fi.
How have you cushioned yourself against data pilfering, hacking, theft, and protecting confidential information?
Law firms are investing in equipment and apps that facilitate safe and seamless communication flow. It’s also imperative to consider easy-to-use and convenient apps to access security systems and files. Most significantly, you need a swift firewall system to detect and combat malware threats in real time.
A remote full-audit trail and access to case files should be organized and stored in a secure electronic space. This measure increases productivity and ensures data privacy.
- Recruitment, Training and Onboarding
Law firms need help figuring out how to onboard and mentor recruits, with half of the team working remotely and the other half in the office. There are better alternatives than a remote setting to train interns and associates. In a career where a significant part of gaining experience and expertise is observing your seniors, the hybrid office model isn’t the ideal solution.
Currently, law firms will still have to rely on technology to fix this. It’s the most logical medium to make information and the seniors readily available to guide interns. When used correctly, these knowledge management tools help improve the firm’s operational value. It, in turn, increases overall expertise in the firm.
In addition, recording training, discussions, meetings, and negotiations are practical steps to guiding the interns since they can access these recorded materials whenever needed. They will also be witnessing firsthand, how cases are handled and deals closed.
Communication remained the greatest challenge in the legal sector, even in the primary in-office setting. Now that information must be disseminated to different workstations, it becomes twice as challenging. The main concern is that remote workers may miss out on crucial details. Then there’s the rapport that builds when people share a physical space.
The solution to this still relies on the virtual world. Invest in quality headsets and webcams to foster collaborations and interactions among employees. Hosting regular video conferences also go a long way in bridging the proxemics gap.
Supervising employees in the traditional work environment was a no-brainer now that you could see everyone. The firm could account for each employee’s workday from start to end. However, these lines of accountability are blurry in the hybrid working model, especially for the team working from home.
For this new model to make sense, every player must be accountable for their operations and tasks, regardless of location. While at it, everyone must also embrace the organization’s culture as a guiding principle. You can achieve this through clear communication. Create guidelines and rules of engagement that everyone should sign. Let them know of the repercussions of forfeiting these terms. For instance, they must fulfill their responsibilities and work standards, whether working remotely or in the office.
You also need to create a new reward system to recognize employees’ milestones and met targets. A positive employee experience is key to meeting the firm’s objective, which converts into more revenue.
Benefits of Hybrid Working Model in Your Law Firm
- Better work-life balance
- Freedom and flexibility for people to choose their preferred workstation
- Reduced work stress and burnout
- Increased productivity
- Easier team coordination and collaborations
- Fantastic cross-function communication
- Better work equipment and easy access to work resources
- More avenues to get feedback
- Cuts down on unnecessary expenses like huge office spaces
Is Hybrid Office Environment Here to Stay?
The hybrid office environment is flexible. The world is constantly moving towards anything that makes work easier. This model is here to stay, so the best approach is to find how best to implement it within your law firm. If executed correctly, you can record higher revenues because it cuts out many office-related expenses like rent and catering costs.
Based on the solutions above, the most outstanding factor is that technology is the solution to almost all hybrid office hurdles. Invest in the right equipment and machines to ensure data security and easy flow of information. Start a free LawBillity trial to help you maximize your law firm’s productivity, profitability, revenue, and efficiency.