As we have just exceeded the one-year anniversary of the United Kingdom’s National lockdown, the question of how permanent this major adaptation is and whether or not this is our new reality is looming.

While this has been a time of adjustment for all different companies and all different industries the law sector poses a substantial discussion around what the future holds and how significant the adjustments made to tackle this global pandemic will be moving forward.


Is this going to be the new normal? – Just how permanent is this change.

The health secretary Matt Hancock has boldly displayed his support for working from home becoming the new normal. Mr Hancock stated that he would support the legal right to work from home through legislation. If this motion were to move forward, the option to continue to work from home post lockdown would no longer be at the employer’s discretion but potentially based on the grounds of the working from home requests of the employees. Boris Johnson has not made any statements regarding this matter and whether or not this will ever be put into place.


If employees were granted the legal right to work from home, how would this affect different sectors of law?

Understandably the pandemic has allowed some areas of law to flourish. Divorce enquiries have risen by 566% between December 2019 and December 2020 which means lawyers who specialise in personal law and litigation will be booming with queries and new business. The same cannot be said for corporate law that thrive off their chosen industry being busy such as Air Lines and events.

This is predicted to change once lockdown has lifted, however, this could potentially mean that the demand will not be needed for the foreseeable future.


The demand for remote working

As expected there have been mixed reviews about working from home as opposed to working in the office. A study by Stanford University concludes that employees are 16% more productive when they are working from home. This study goes further to investigate how much time employees can save from not having to commute to work and suggests that employees are more likely to work overtime due to the spare time they accumulate from not having to travel. This supports the concept that working from home offers benefits to both the employees and employer, additionally supporting the demand for remote working.

Further to this discussion surrounding the elimination of the work commute, firms are presented with endless opportunities with regard to recruitment prospects. Location is no longer a defining factor when choosing a candidate to best represent a firm. Finding the perfect candidate is no longer dependent on if they would be able to come to the office to carry out the workday as they can do this at home. This also allows for the broadening of culture and diversity within the workplace.


What remote working means for managing partners

There have been new procedures published to ensure that despite the changes presented to the workplace by COVID-19, firms who are practising law still follow regulations they are legally obligated to uphold.

One of the most drastic changes made in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic is the move from court hearings taking place in-person to being held via video calls. This alone requires a huge change in protocol and pushed for the Judiciary of England and Wales to publish a CIVIL JUSTICE IN ENGLAND and WALES PROTOCOL REGARDING REMOTE HEARINGS “document to ensure that the importance of conducting trials fairly is in line with the laws that would hold significance if the courts were open as normal.

Despite there being procedures issued to assist with working from home there have been growing concerns about how well GDPR is being endorsed by employees who are working remotely. An Atlas Cloud survey reported that more than 16% of participants in the legal sector are using personal equipment to carry out office work.

Multiple password authentication is a very effective way to ensure data is secure when staff are working from home, this is an attainable prevention technique that is not being executed nearly as much as it should be.

That being said there are many ways to ensure employees are following procedures and know how to comply with rules and regulations that will protect a business. Training sessions via a video call that are either held in-house or through a credited training program offer a solution that the company will continue to benefit from post lockdown.  (click here for more information)


Why wellbeing & Mental Health matters in remote working and law firms

The concept of work culture has been reshaped and rewritten and while the nation has adapted to the new climate, it has been hard for many to come to terms with just how different life has become. The law sector has always been considered a fast-paced and stressful industry and the lack of social interaction and mandatory isolation has put a strain on what is an already difficult industry. 56% of people who participated in a survey about working from home within the law sector believe their firm should be offering more support for remote working.

There are a few ways that this can be combated, firstly ensuring employees are being heard. Make sure there is a safe place for employees to express how they feel about the changes that are happening. Communication is key so making sure partners and employees are on the same page is crucial.

Having team meetings and one-to-ones with staff members can also be very helpful. This reasserts a healthy work culture and lets staff know they are part of a team. This additionally provides support that allows employees to help each other out with things while offices are closed.


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