As originally published in Legal Reader April 1, 2021
How Law Firms Can Master the Hybrid Work Environment
by Heinan Landa | Optimal Networks, Inc.
In their December 2020 “Future of Workforce Pulse Report”, UpWork found that 56.8% of the American workforce is now working from home (WFH) at least part of the time. This reflects a dramatic rise in remote work necessitated by the pandemic – just one year earlier, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 24% of American workers worked from home on a regular basis!
Upwork also found that, five years into the future, managers expect that 22.9% of us will be work from home full-time and another 14.6% of us will do so for part of the work week. Prior to COVID-19, those demographics were 12.3% and 8.9%, respectively. It’s a trend that professionals are largely behind: responses to IBM’s COVID-19 Consumer Survey suggest that 65% of US workers want to maintain at least some WFH permanently.
These projections align with popular sentiment among attorneys. In a 2020 report, LOEB Leadership found that over 67% of law firm professionals want to stay at least partially remote after the pandemic.
Once COVID-19 vaccinations have been distributed widely, the new normal will likely reflect this change in attitude: at any given time, most organizations will have a hybrid workforce with employees split between corporate and home offices. Many of our clients are currently contemplating this arrangement – and what it means for law firms. In order to create a sustainable work environment that allows seamless collaboration between home and office, firms must think through all the tactical considerations – from flexibility to security to additional workload. If they do, a hybrid model can bring with it a number of advantages.
Shifting focus from productivity to impact
A permanent shift to a hybrid work environment has the potential to unlock significant gains for both our businesses and our people.
First, let’s consider what WFH has to offer on its own. The data from Upwork and IBM tell two sides of the same story: employers and workers alike recognize value in WFH. And why shouldn’t they? The advantages of even part-time remote work are quantifiable: