The legal community has a unique set of remote work challenges.
The majority of your day now is likely spent working from home. To some this may be a very different atmosphere. While working remote has become fairly common in many industries, the legal community has reason to be cautious. For the legal services industry, the keys to making remote work successful include digital security, technology, organization, human resource management, efficient capital deployment and access to flexible office space.
In order to maintain client confidentiality, a secure internet connection is paramount. The use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) ensures security by masking your location and encrypting any files you send. Public internet access should be avoided without the use of a robust VPN. In addition, a robust file management software package should also be part of the overall IT plan. Companies, such as Join, are offering free VPN services to remote workforces.
Supporting your remote workforce with the technology they need to remain productive, interact effectively with their peers and safely communicate with their clients is something many have had to quickly spin up quickly. Cloud-based software such as DocuSign, DropBox and Google Drive support team collaboration while bringing a level of security that does not require an IT team on call. However, it is important to create standard use policies for these tools.
Human resource management remains important as well. A remote workforce has similar moving parts to that of an office-based workforce. Trust, communication strategy, coaching are all still part of the equation but are handled differently. Implementing an appropriate remote work policy will be an important asset in setting expectations.
Having a partially remote or fully distributed workforce has quickly become the norm. Many managers have seen productivity rise among their teams. Further, many in the workforce have come to view work from home (WFH) as a valuable employee benefit. WFH is one of many ways to attract or retain top talent according to a recent Harvard Business Review article. WFH employees are generally more focused and love not having to endure grueling commutes.
Increased retention is a net positive for the bottom line just like lowering a firm’s total real estate expenditure. Among other substantial savings, Global Workplace Analytics reported the savings for a full-time WFH employee being $10,000 on average.
Many in the legal community are predicting remote work is here to stay. Law firms and corporate legal departments will be looking at ways to accommodate and adapt to a new reality of remote working, even post-COVID. According to Law.com, it is possible that the physical law offices of the future could be used primarily to accommodate essentials such as client meetings and paralegal work.
While working from home has its perks, there are clear reasons legal firms need to utilize a private office or meeting room from time to time, even during a crisis. As a legal professional, you provide an essential service and may find yourself in need of a more formal office space. This need may be driven by client meetings, scheduled depositions, transactional closings, trial preparation, or the need for a ‘war room’ in close proximity to the court. Finding space that has adapted health and safety guidelines and can also accommodate your need for privacy (and the ever-changing schedules the legal world is famous for), means you need a flexible remote office solution. No matter the size of your organization the LiquidSpace platform can assist you in locating and booking flexible office space on-demand when and where you need it.
For larger organizations, LiquidSpace offers Mobility Manager. This enterprise application allows you to curate flexible office space in and around where your staff lives and works. Your organization can deploy and manage your corporate mobility program from a centralized platform. As you think about the impact remote working may have on your firm going forward, you may benefit from an increase in liquidity of your overall real estate footprint. No matter the size of your organization you can benefit from the agility of flexible office terms. The recent FASB rule change ASC 842 will require operating leases greater than 12 months to be recorded into the balance sheet. Carrying a 5 to 10-year lease to accommodate all of your staff, maybe less attractive as you consider your remote workplace options.