2020 – the year that the world of work changed forever? With the majority of the working world being told to work from home where possible from March onwards, many have adapted quickly and successfully to this new way of working. Could flexible working continue to be offered after lockdown ends, now that we see law firms actually making it work? Many companies, including a number of City law firms have announced that working from home will be a permanent option for their staff. With these announcements coming thick and fast, businesses must be seeing the benefits too – saving costs of expensive offices and providing greater flexibility for their employees.
In our last blog post, we explored steps towards becoming an expert in your legal field. Since writing this post a lot has changed. Will employers in your legal field take working flexibly forward as a permanent option for staff? Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages, for both employees and employers.
Advantages to the Employee
The benefits of flexible working to employees are numerous, and perhaps more evident than those of employers. Avoiding commute times, either by working from home, or starting and finishing work at a different time. Dropping children at school, or to childcare. Being able to attend appointments, work on other projects, tend to family commitments, or spend time on something you are passionate about. These are all motives for employees to pursue flexible working options.
One of the most common reasons for flexible working at the moment is parenthood. Many lawyers decide to work part-time, change their hours or work some days from home, after having a family.
Beyond parenting, many want to consider their options for part- time studying.
Advantages to the Employer
Many employers may worry that their staff may not be as productive at home, but there is actually a growing body of research which shows working from home increases productivity. Many feel that without office distractions and the stress and time wasted commuting, they can get a lot more done in their working day. While employees working from home has involved a short-term increase in technology costs, for many organisations there is now being countered with significant savings with lower operational costs. Employers who offer flexible working options can improve staff morale, have better retention rates and can hire from a bigger talent pool, if applicants don’t need to live locally.
Problems with Flexible Working
All this being said, there can be some downsides to working from home, and other flexible working options. Without coming together face to face, there may be less of a team spirit resulting in poorer teamworking. Working from home can blur the lines between work and leisure time. Family members or friends may expect things of you when you are at home and not appreciate that you are working. You may feel the need to answer emails in the evening outside of working hours. Communication may not be as effective, or staff members may feel isolated.
It is important to consider these advantages and disadvantages and manage flexible working carefully from both sides. With so many companies taking working from home into their future, we hope to begin to see improvements. We’d benefit from better systems for communication, project management and more open mindedness about working from home. One of the best ways forward may be to offer blended working, where employees have the option to work from home sometimes but also need to spend time in the workplace with colleagues.
What do you hope for from employers in the future? Does working from home suit you or would you rather be in the office as usual?
Visit our vacancies page, to read about our opportunities, both at home and overseas, and stay tuned for further updates.