While remote working and flexible hours are a staple in many industries, it’s fair to say that the legal sector has been slower in adopting new ways of working. While there are logistical barriers, a significant portion of the industry is simply not geared up to promote innovative ways of working.
Here, our owner and director, Jessica Hampson, shares her key takeaways of working in lockdown and why it’s more important than ever for businesses to adapt their culture to the needs of their employees.
It’s a buzzword that’s been thrown about for a while now, but our current situation has truly highlighted which companies practise what they preach when it comes to offering their staff flexibility.
Even some of the most forward-thinking businesses will have spotted flaws in their remote working set-up, due to the sheer volume of employees having to transfer from their desk to kitchen table, makeshift home office or sofa.
But, what’s important is that we realise what flexibility means to us and how it can drive results. Here at CEL, we’ve seen a huge spike in productivity despite the team working at home. Our main company value is that we put people before profit – this applies to both our clients and our employees. Our team is passionate about achieving results for their clients, and we put trust in them to make that happen, regardless of what their working day ultimately ends up looking like.
We’re continuing to smash targets week after week, showing that working as #oneteam is possible remotely, too.
Equally, people are managing to split their working day between work and family time, with one of our team even being able to watch his baby’s first steps due to being at home when he would have ordinarily been in the office – priceless!
This has, of course, got us thinking about how we can switch up our flexible working policies. For instance, we’re now considering offering staff the opportunity to work one day a week at home and potentially bringing in hot desking options, when it is recommended as safe to do so. We want to be able to offer the best possible working solution to our team, while still getting amazing results for our clients.
At the moment, what we are experiencing is by no means ‘normal’ flexible working. Everyone is dealing with added pressures at home, whether that’s juggling childcare and home-learning with their little ones, caring for vulnerable relatives or experiencing co-working alongside their other halves for the first time!
So, while this may not be a perfect test, it’s certainly a good indication of what does – and doesn’t – work for us and for our team on an individual basis.
As an extremely close-knit team, we were slightly concerned at how remote working could impact on team morale and the day-to-day comradery we take for granted in the office. Thankfully, we needn’t have worried, as our regular Zoom calls and WhatsApp groups have made sure we’re speaking to each other more than ever!
Little things like ringing our bell virtually when a case settles or regular check-ins on everyone’s wellbeing have really helped us stay positive and adapt to our ‘new normal’. We’ve also ensured we keep our ‘early dart’ incentive in place for when the team hits our monthly targets – we’d usually pat ourselves on the back with a team outing but, for now, a fun quiz on Zoom does us just fine!
I’m hearing a lot of people from a variety of sectors say they feel more in tune with their colleagues during this period and employees feel more trusted by their managers, eliminating any risk of micro-management. It seems we’re all much more aware of each other’s mental wellbeing and stress triggers, which can only be a good thing, right?
While this time is certainly showing us how adaptable we all are and highlighting qualities and skills we didn’t even know we had, it’s also shining a light on how our industry needs to move forward.
Something as simple as going paperless would make a huge difference to efficiency, for example, not to mention the environment! In the past, we’ve had a fight on our hands with things like electronic signatures, but a post-lockdown world will be a lot more tech-savvy so these barriers could be broken down.
It also goes without saying that the true value of company culture has taken centre stage. Clearly, our asset is legal advice, which comes from our team. We therefore need to ensure they are happy, fulfilled and, crucially, are motivated to succeed as without them, we would not have a business.
To do this, we have three core values that allow us to ensure this happens. ‘People before profits’, means we put our client and our employees at the heart of what we do.
The second, ‘celebrating excellence in law’, highlights how our team are experts at what they do. We develop our team so they’re providing the best possible service and getting the best possible results. Finally, ‘gratitude is our attitude’ shows that we wouldn’t be here without our team or our clients. We treat them with respect and hire people who fit our values and genuinely care about the clients, the law and their team.
As we move through these tremendously unprecedented times and begin to see some end in sight, I’m looking forward to seeing how our sector shifts its mindset and moves forward for the better.