Is your workforce in the office? More and more law firms are offering staff the opportunity to work remotely, whether from a home office or from co-working spaces and cafes between client appointments. This trend is often attributed to the Millennial generation demanding more flexible and agile working, although it’s not just junior lawyers taking their firms up on this offer.

In fact, the remote working trend is driven across many sectors by advances in technology, as well as changes in society and the economy. Why not reduce office overheads by having a remote workforce? After all there is no reason why your team can’t check emails, share documents, make voice and video calls and use video or teleconferencing systems if they can connect to the cloud and / or your firm’s VPN.

Offering flexible and remote working has benefits for legal firms. There may be cost savings when you no longer need to accommodate all employees in one space, and it can also help a business attract talent – giving a firm a competitive advantage over other legal practices that don’t offer working from home. In recent years the ‘on demand’ law firms have poached lawyers from fulltime private practices, with flexible working being a key motivating factor for this exodus.

The myth that remote workers spend their days watching TV and ignoring their inbox has also been firmly debunked. Many studies show that remote workers increase productivity levels when allowed to work in a flexible way. Moreover, most firms have systems in place that ensure some level of accountability; from timesheets to deadlines, employees get the work down regardless of whether they’re in the office or sitting on their sofa.

How To Make Remote Working Work For Your Law Firm

However, remote working only works when the right systems and technology solutions are in place. If your employer can’t access shared folders, files, and systems when they need to, they’re not going to be very productive. If they’re not invited to a meeting because video or teleconferencing solutions are not in place, they’re likely to be out of the loop when it comes to decisions about the business or a client’s account. Or if they miss out on some office chat, they might begin to feel isolated.

That’s why some companies decide that remote working isn’t for them. Face-to-face contact and a collaborative work environment are important, and losing this aspect of the workplace can negate any benefits your firm and employee gains from working from home.

Fortunately, there are tools that can overcome this particular challenge. While video conferencing doesn’t entirely replace a spontaneous face-to-face by the office water cooler, it is an excellent solution for scheduled meetings (and even impromptu meetings as with the right system you can be video conferencing in seconds). Yes, your remote workers may miss out on the office gossip but internal messaging systems can provide channels to chat, ask a question or request information. And of course many companies are already using cloud file sharing and collaboration tools, all your employee needs is a secure connection to access these.

Unified communication systems also reduce a significant headache for companies with remote workers. That’s how to manage expenses such as phone calls, broadband access etc., which employers incur when using their home as an office. Instead, your remote team can access the company’s communications system from their home office, co-working space, hotel and client’s premises, and get access to your virtual office. Even mobile devices can access this technology, making expenses claims much more straightforward for all parties.

The trend towards remote working within the legal sector is on an upwards curve, so if your firm is not exploring this option perhaps now’s the time to do so. One way to do this is to join us for a free productivity workshop where we explore how technology can help your company increase productivity and drive efficiencies and cost savings. Details here.

You may also like to read our blog post on the policies and procedures to put in place when offering staff the opportunity to work remotely. Click here.