Should Law Firm Owners Keep Remote Employees After Covid?

During the Height of the Covid Pandemic, many law firms across the country became 100% remotely operational. Thanks to high-speed internet, digital capabilities, paperless document systems, platforms like Zoom and DocuSign- law firms realized they could remain highly functional and productive while operating remotely.

So, here’s the Big Question to Ask Yourself- Should I continue to operate remotely or in a remote/hybrid in the future- even when Covid is no longer an issue?

We now know that a law firm doesn’t “need” everyone sitting in their office cubicles and meeting in literal conference rooms in order to get the work done.

Law firms can remain functional and operational in a remote model, with most if not all your employees working from home- but should we continue doing so?

What are the Pros and Cons?

HARVARD STUDY- For the past 5 years (well before Covid-19), Harvard Business School Associate Professor Prithwiraj Choudhury started studying a number of companies that implemented WFH (Work from Home) or WFA (Work from Anywhere) into their long-term business models. His study included organizations such as TCS, Zapier, and even the United States Patent and Trademark Office, who alone has several thousand employees working remotely.

THREE BIG BENEFITS with REMOTE OPERATIONS: Dr. Choudhury’s research uncovered a number of benefits to both business entities as well as individual employees.

EMPLOYER BENEFITS:

increased employee productivity,

decreased real estate/overhead costs and

hugely increased potential talent pool for new hires

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS:

increased quality of life,

better work-life balance, and

financial benefits like the flexibility to live in other locations where the cost of living is lower and eliminating commute expenses.

Choudhury also notes that “Millennials seemed captivated by the idea that working from anywhere would allow them to become ‘digital nomads,’ traveling the world while still employed.” (Choudhury, “Our Work From Anywhere Future,” Harvard-Business Review, Nov/Dec. 2020)

But how do these benefits translate to the law firm setting?

Lower Your Real Estate Overhead–

If you can maintain a number of your employees in a WFH capacity, you will definitely be able to reduce the needed office space/overhead expenses of maintaining a full office.

Make Hiring Super Talented Employees Easier

Hiring talented A-team players has always been a challenge for most law firms- Making the decision to hire remote employees means increasing the potential candidate pool exponentially.

You are no longer stuck trying to find the best employees from those available in your backyard- Now the whole country- or globe is a hiring option- This can prove to be a huge benefit for law firm owners.

But what about productivity?  Prior to COVID-19, many law firms were reluctant to allow employee WFH arrangements out of concerns about the risk for decreased employee productivity.

Ken Hardison- founder and president of PILMMA- has worked with many law firms who were forced to take their firms remote during the pandemic. I asked Ken to weigh in on the remote productivity results PILMMA members have experienced since the pandemic started. For most firms, about one-third of the employees have been even MORE productive since working from home! However, another one-third have been less productive than when working in the office, and the remaining one-third have remained at the same level of productivity, regardless of whether they were working from the home or office.

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