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Hybrid working - The conversation about flexible and hybrid working in the legal profession rages on…

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In a recent survey that IDEX Consulting conducted, 43% of Lawyers suggested that they wanted to work from home more than they currently do.

Since the pandemic, lots of research has been conducted on this subject. In addition to the obvious benefit of less time spent commuting, remote working is said to boost productivity (63%) and reduce the risk of burnout – and a recent poll I did on LinkedIn suggests that 25% of Lawyers are working over 50 hours a week, and 36% are not getting the work life balance they need – so the risk of burnout is real.

This new research even suggests that if done in an intentional way, offering remote working options to employees, promotes inclusivity and innovation, as well as actually boosting employee engagement with the company.

These findings are particularly important for women/mothers who, broadly speaking, shouldered most of the primary caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic and suggested that this negatively impacted their prospects for promotion (62%).

All this being said, a key concern for home working still is around culture and teamwork. Despite being constantly surrounded by tech and various platforms which enable us to be more connected than ever, this is still cited as the main reason for pushing employees to go back into an office. Especially in the legal profession, which is famously one which is slightly archaic in its approach to most things, the need for presenteeism is still commonplace.

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The key seems to quite simply be having a very thought out approach to hybrid/remote working and ensuring that all key team members and stakeholders are on board – I was once told “culture is catching” and so if one person has some concerns about the policy, this is likely to spread through the firm like wildfire. But ask yourself, if you trust yourself to work from home, why do you not trust your team?

And whilst we’re on the subject, why not follow in the footsteps of us over here at IDEX consulting, and offer a policy to “work anywhere”. It actually feels beneficial to move away from anything which is loosely COVID-19 related anyway (yes, I will chuck the next person that says “new normal” out the window!). If you are trusting people to work outside the office, trust them to pick a place which will encourage their creativity and to pick an environment where they will thrive. Let’s build new perspectives around autonomy, responsibility and encouraging accountability. As was famously quoted on Twitter - 'You do you, hun!'

Moreover, offering employees the opportunity to work from anywhere, just allows for them to have a more fruitful family/personal life as well as a successful career. Sometimes that doctors/dentist appt, that school play, or that car breaking down, just creeps up on us when we don’t expect it and so having the autonomy and being trusted to manage this as we see fit makes for very happy employees. We’re all human at the end of the day.