The move to working from home, or some form of hybrid working, is an exciting opportunity for law firms to create a happier, healthier and more productive work experience for your employees. Rory MccGwire, whose company Atom switched to working from home and hybrid working many years ago, suggests the best way to go about it. (1 March 2022)
- Set expectations and agree ways of working, such as working hours, availability outside working hours, and how you keep each other updated.
- Allow some flexibility, so your team can be more flexible and productive themselves (eg time off for the school run, with time made up elsewhere).
- Adapt the firm’s systems and processes to allow remote and office-based staff to make best use of them.
- Focus on results rather than activity. Trust your team to work without micromanaging.
- Have a quick daily check-in to monitor each other’s well-being and keep the workflow on track. Look out for signs that someone is struggling with their work.
- Review short-term goals regularly and adjust as needed.
- Make time for social conversations. This increases rapport, eases communication and reduces feelings of isolation.
- Keep your calendars visible and, as a manager, maintain a virtual ‘open door’.
- Provide the tools your team needs, such as collaboration software, and the training to use it effectively (eg Teams, Zoom, Slack, Trello, Google Hangouts, as well as your PMS and MS Office).
- Agree communication protocols, especially in regard to deadlines: when to call, when to use a chat app, and when to email (plus how to word the subject line and when to cc people).
- Address any cyber security and data protection risks and include these rules in your Work From Home Policy.
- Share information and encourage your team to do the same, eg learnings from other meetings and projects.
- Give feedback carefully, as people can become much more sensitive if they are feeling isolated or anxious. Home in on what’s not being said by people and ask questions to clarify your interpretation.
- Take every opportunity to praise, thank and encourage your team.
- Avoid remote workers feeling disadvantaged and disengaged by including them in the hybrid and in-person social events that foster strong relationships.
- Keep the ‘feedback loop’ going, so you can keep improving how the team works together.
- Follow a robust process for accepting new instructions, so supervisors can understand the work coming into the firm and can agree who is to do what by when.
- Invest heavily in the onboarding process for any new employees, as joining a remote or hybrid team is notoriously problematic.
- Consider setting certain days when everyone is required to be in the office. Experiment to find what works best for everyone, eg occasionally coming in after rush hour and then staying for a drink might be popular with some teams.
- Make use of recorded briefings, which people can watch in their own time (eg updates on the firm, or best practice training).
"Recent research by YouGov revealed that 51% of employees who currently have the choice to mix remote and office work would leave their company if this flexibility was removed. So this flexibility is essential for firms who want to retain staff long term"
Patricia Kinahan, partner, accountants Hazlewoods
- How to retain and motivate key talent
- Number of remote working roles advertised rises 20% in past month (research results from Hazlewoods, 22 February 2022)
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