In order to enhance productivity and meet the commercial and operational challenges of today’s legal market, law firms should move away from outdated remote working models and instead nurture true agile working cultures. Here’s the why and the how.
If agile working has been the direction of travel for some law firms over the past few years, nobody could have predicted the rapid shift to remote working that we have seen in 2020. Everyone agrees that agile working is here to stay. However, remote working – where many law firms are today – and agile working are two different things.
Law firms throughout the UK have been forced to embrace remote working in 2020, enabling users to work from home typically with laptops and remote access to the data and applications they need. Ask users what they think of remote working, and you’ll find that attitudes vary wildly – whilst some value the chance to spend more time with their families and avoid commutes, others miss time spent in the office with colleagues and the free-flowing exchange of ideas the office culture promotes. These attitudes may well be biased by expectations; some may view remote working as a positive temporary change, but hope to return to the office when it’s safe to do so.
This short-termism around remote working is reflected not only in users’ attitudes but also in law firms’ remote working cultures. Prior to 2020, law firms had been slow to adapt to agile working: a 2019 survey found that 89% of EMEA law firms continued to operate fixed desk policies.
You’d expect a survey carried out in 2020 to be quite different, as agile working has become non-negotiable. But although operational approaches may have been bent to meet the needs of remote workers, many law firms’ working cultures have not truly changed since early-2020.
Now is the time for longer-term thinking – how can you move away from traditional notions of the workplace towards a contemporary agile workspace? Get it right, and your law firm can enhance productivity and meet its strategic goals. In this blog post we’ll explain the why and the how.
From Employee Benefits to Strategic Goals
For some time now working from home has been seen as a user benefit – a concession to make to keep staff happy. We believe agile working should no longer be seen as just a user benefit – when applied effectively, it truly is a way for law firms to meet their strategic goals.
In order to transition from temporary remote working cultures to long-term agile working cultures, law firms will need to question long-held beliefs around how they operate and the role of the office. The answers will be based around talent, roles, collaboration and the real estate, human resources and technology that support them. Law firms that get it right will nurture strong agile working cultures that will increase productivity and enhance the value they deliver to their clients.
The Importance of Being Agile
The way we work has changed. In today’s fast-moving world, the ability to communicate, collaborate and work efficiently, anywhere really can be the catalyst that drives your law firm’s success. However, the core principles of flexible working – delivering users the same experience, wherever they are – need to be revisited if law firms really want to tackle today’s complex challenges head on. At Six Degrees, we believe that the agile workspace represents the future of work. Delivering users the same experience wherever they are is great, but it fails to address a key aspect of our working lives today: that we have different working needs at different times.
Say you’re a fee earner, and you’ve been tasked with presenting a complex proposal to a client’s Board of Directors. In order to prepare, you’ll need to engage with a number of stakeholders who will be actively involved in the proposal. But then you’ll need time to go away and really focus on creating a concise, compelling proposal that provides a comprehensive overview of the proposition. And finally you’ll want to deliver an excellent presentation to the client’s Board, some of whom may be in different offices or even continents.
Each of the three discrete phases of this project will require its own unique working structure in order to achieve the best results. Simply grabbing a laptop and smartphone and ‘getting on with it’ is not enough: to deliver effectively, it’s essential to equip yourself with tools that empower you to work efficiently and appropriately, anywhere.
Workspace, Not Workplace
The latest technology enables users to work in a manner that’s most appropriate to their immediate requirements. It empowers users by recognising that they need time to communicate and collaborate, but they also need time to concentrate and contemplate. How can this technology help your fee earner deliver their presentation to the client’s Board? Let’s look at each of the three phases one at a time.
When you’re working with other stakeholders to create the proposal, you’ll need to work collaboratively, making dynamic changes as the parameters of the proposal are fleshed out. Agile workspace technology facilitates collaboration across multiple channels, allowing you to introduce video calls to instant messaging chats, embed ‘click to call links’ in documents, and use all available collaboration methods in a straightforward, intuitive way.
Once you’re ready to create the proposal, you may want to get away from the office to work from a space that suits your personality, drives your creativity, and gives you time to focus. The agile workspace allows you to achieve the same ubiquitous experience in all locations and across all device types. So whether you’re at home, in a shared working space, or at your favourite local coffee shop, you have access to the required tools in a consistent manner.
And when you’re presenting to the board, agile workspace technology delivers conferencing facilities through a single platform that provides a seamless experience no matter where you are, or where your audience is located.
Each of these three phases have their own unique requirements that need to be addressed. However, an agile workspace solution should also be seamless and continual. Simplicity is key – users should be able to access the tools they need, when they need them without unnecessary complexity, and with a consistent user experience throughout.
Empower Your Users and Drive Innovation
The agile workspace will help your law firm get the best out of your users no matter what their location, function, age or experience. It will help them work better collaboratively, whilst giving them the time they need to focus away from the office.
The way we work is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Adopting an agile workspace will help you improve user wellbeing whilst meeting today’s complex business challenges head on, driving competitive advantages and empowering you to achieve your business’ strategic goals.
Check out our Agile in Action whitepaper to learn more about how the intelligent application of technology can enable your law firm to meet the operational and commercial challenges that today’s turbulent business climate presents.
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