In recent years, the concept of hybrid work schedules has gained significant traction across various industries. Law firms, traditionally known for their in-office presence, have also begun embracing hybrid schedules as a way to adapt to the changing work landscape and attract top talent.
This guide will explore the concept of hybrid schedules, the reasons why law firms should consider adopting them, and provide practical steps for implementing a successful hybrid schedule at your firm.
By understanding the advantages and strategies associated with hybrid work, law firms can create a flexible and productive work environment that meets the demands of their employees and promotes business continuity in a rapidly evolving world.
What Is a Hybrid Work Schedule?
A hybrid work schedule is a cross between working remotely and working in the office. It provides the best of both worlds, allowing people to work from home as they wish while still gaining the collaboration and camaraderie that comes from working in an office.
Aside from being a combination of remote and in-office work, no two hybrid work schedules are exactly alike. Some organizations are more office-centric while others prioritize remote work. This can even vary by department or individual.
The Big Shift to Hybrid and Remote Working Models
Despite many progressive companies offering remote work for years, more traditional industries like the legal industry still required an in-office presence. While the pandemic did force many businesses, including law firms, to adopt remote work on a dime, it opened their eyes to the technology that has been available to support business continuity from anywhere.
From increased productivity to better work-life balance — law firms quickly realized the benefits of remote work. As the world embraced the new normal post-pandemic life, many law firms sought to strike a balance between in-office culture and the flexibility remote work gave.
Lawyers and legal staff now expect that flexibility, especially younger lawyers. In a competitive market, something like flexible scheduling or remote workdays could mean the difference between two competitive job offers.
Remote and hybrid work has never been easier for law firms. With cloud-based legal practice management software, like PracticePanther, firms have access to comprehensive legal case management features on the go.
Lawyers can communicate with clients and staff via chat, review and edit documents, track time and expenses, and manage billing from any device with an internet connection, rather than being tied to the office.
Why Should My Law Firm Adopt a Hybrid Schedule?
Hybrid schedules aren’t just a perk anymore. People demand them. According to a Zoom survey from 2021, 65% of remote workers said hybrid work is the ideal work model. Only 15% said they’d prefer to work from home all the time.
The legal industry is no different. According to an American Bar Association survey, most lawyers want the option to work from home or attend meetings, conferences, training, and court hearings remotely. These lawyers don’t necessarily want a fully remote schedule, but more flexibility with the option for some remote work.
There are many benefits to a hybrid schedule, including:
Improved Work-Life Balance
Lawyers have notoriously struggled with burnout and work-life balance. Hybrid or remote schedules give lawyers more flexibility to balance their work and family obligations, especially for working parents and women lawyers.
Hybrid schedules enhance productivity in many ways. Without a commute five days a week, your staff can sleep longer or handle more of their responsibilities at home, giving them more focus on the job. Working from home, even some of the time, also leads to less work-related stress and anxiety.
Attracts Top Talent
Employees in all industries are demanding less traditional workplace environments, including the legal industry. Talent is also in top demand, even for law firms looking to attract young, driven lawyers. Offering a hybrid or remote option is a great perk to secure the best candidates.
Depending on the hybrid schedule, allowing staff to work remotely for part of the week allows you to shut down your office space and save on rent, utilities, parking, and other overhead. You’ll also save on other related expenses, such as office supplies.
Embracing hybrid work schedules supports business continuity by allowing staff to work anywhere they choose, no matter the time of day. To ensure success, you should provide the right law firm software and resources to staff so they can easily perform their duties.
How to Implement a Hybrid Schedule at Your Firm
Interested in starting a hybrid schedule at your firm? Here’s what you can do:
Consult with Your Team
Before you can create a schedule, you have to see what your team really wants and expects. Consult with your team in one-on-one meetings, group meetings, and anonymous surveys so you can craft a plan for the transition.
Define the Hybrid Structure
One of the most important things about establishing a hybrid work schedule is to make sure it’s still flexible. Forcing lawyers and staff to be remote on only certain days isn’t quite in the spirit of hybrid work, so consider the best way to satisfy everyone’s needs.
For some, three days of office work with two days of remote work may be best. For others, a split of half the weekly hours may be best. Another option is remote first, which means that employees are remote as standard with the option to come into the office.
For autonomy, the best option is allowing employees to choose the schedule that works best for them.
Communicate with Employees
Once you have a hybrid schedule figured out, communicate it with employees and define your policies. For example, if employees are remote with the option to come into the office, are there ever times when it’s mandatory? If you’re doing split days, are the employees free to choose the days they work?
Whatever you choose, make sure you’re communicating with your employees and that everyone is on the same page with expectations.
Pro Tip: Use PracticePanther legal document management software to have staff electronically sign the hybrid or remote working policy and store it securely in a centralized location.
Provide the Necessary Resources and Technology
Taking employees out of the office requires resources and technology, especially with law firms. You need a robust cloud-based infrastructure that’s user-friendly and secure to ensure that all the sensitive client information you handle is protected.
Legal practice management software makes this a breeze with legal-specific features to support remote work, including collaborative features, integration with the most popular apps, and top-notch security to protect sensitive data.
Monitor and Evaluate Performance
Watching over your staff’s shoulder isn’t appropriate for a hybrid environment, but you should still track your firm and staff’s performance. With legal practice management software reporting, you can get detailed reports to track trends, discover billable hours, and see how your firm is performing.
Outlook of Remote and Hybrid Working for Law Firms
Switching to a hybrid working model is more than just a nice to have — it’s an essential component of managing a successful law firm that retains and attracts top talent.
PracticePanther makes it easy for firms to adopt hybrid working models, maintain business continuity and collaborate across staff with a cloud-based platform that allows you to work from anywhere.
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