Darren Gower (pictured), Marketing Director at Eclipse spoke to LPM Magazine to discuss how flexible working can benefit law firms.
The nine-to-five working week is over. Well, for most people anyway. Whilst some businesses cling to the traditional ways of working, many others are embracing a more modern approach – to give employees more flexibility.
This change has been ongoing for a number of years, and now we live in a world where individuals can choose (to an extent) their own working hours and where they work from. Strict schedules where everybody comes into the office at the same time every day are becoming less and less common.
It has been a necessary evolution. People have important things to do outside of work – such as picking up their children from school – and a standard 9-5 job doesn’t offer that flexibility. In order for businesses to keep their top talent, they need to compete with other employers who are offering a flexible working environment.
This is why it’s particularly important for SMEs to embrace this type of thing. You need skilled people to help your business grow, but you won’t be able to keep hold of them if bigger firms are offering these sorts of benefits.
As a result, flexible working is now incredibly common in the law sector. Firms big and small all over the UK offer their employees different options. Some allow a set amount of ‘working from home’ days per week or fortnight, others allow staff to choose their own start and finish times.
In what is a very traditional industry, you might be surprised to see how many law firms are embracing these practices. Because they recognise that it’s not only good for their employees, but it’s good for them too. A number of studies have shown that it actually increases productivity.
So, how do they do it? How have businesses been able to allow flexible working without compromising on the quality of service they offer to clients?
One of the most important things is they have internal systems, processes and procedures that are flexible. Employees need to be working with software that allows them to log in and work from home. They need to be able to access files and folders remotely in order to continue delivering exceptional service.
And they need to be able to communicate with each other. Teamwork and communication are essential aspects of running a successful practice, so there needs to be a way of replicating the closeness of an office space into a remote working environment – which primarily takes place online.
Staff are legally allowed to request a flexible working arrangement once they’ve been at a company for 26 weeks. But law firms can make this easier, for themselves and their employees, by offering it right away.