With vaccination rates rising statewide and COVID-based restrictions loosening (and in some cases eliminating them altogether), it’s time for law firms to figure out how and when lawyers and the staff will return to the office.
The approaches reported vary widely. Some companies are embracing the changes forced upon them by the pandemic and moving towards smaller desktop footprints and hybrid workplace models that offer a mix of office and remote work, or even allow remote work to be done. full time in certain circumstances.
Particularly in the greater Boston area, the ability to work from home and avoid a long, exhausting commute has been a huge plus.
But not all businesses are so forward looking. Despite more than a year of remote working experience, too many companies envision a scenario in which everyone returns to the office full-time on the same schedules as before the pandemic.
It is true that there is value in being in the office, which offers opportunities for day-to-day social interaction, in-person training and mentoring. But there are also distinct advantages of being able to work from home at least part of the time, including the ability to better balance work and family obligations.
Law firms have long claimed to be concerned about the lack of diversity in the executive ranks, even as a more diverse pool of partners continues to leave private firms for internal positions that offer better work-life balance. , more flexible hours and a recognition that there is more to life than work.
There is now a perfect opportunity for companies to go beyond the mere expression of the notion of flexible hours, to stop thinking of the family needs of their lawyers and staff as something that must be accommodated to. reluctantly, and adopt a more family-friendly approach to work. .
There is also a good business reason to rethink the traditional work week. Companies that encourage flexible hours and take a hybrid approach will be better able to recruit and retain talent in this new standard. Many lawyers, especially working parents, will no longer be willing to simply accept a schedule in which they arrive home every night too late to spend time with their children after seeing firsthand that there is a viable alternative.
Law firms are now at a pivotal time where they can make a drastic change in the way office life looks in the future. They can embrace what they have learned over the past year and recognize the benefits of flexibility in terms of employee morale and retention. And they can reap the resulting savings on office space costs that come with a smaller footprint.
Or they may insist on resuming their activities as usual. The latter approach may be the easy answer, but it’s not the smartest one.
The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Editorial Advisory Board provides knowledge and advice for the editorials that appear on this page. The board is an advisory committee only, with no official voting or attendance record. Council input is a tremendous resource for Lawyers Weekly; however, editorials represent the position of the newspaper and its editorial team, and not the members, or any particular member, of the board of directors.
EDITORIAL BOARD: Robert J. Cordy, Boston; Sophia L. Hall, Boston; Martin W. Healy, Boston; Hon. Margaret R. Hinkle, Boston; Thomas M. Hoopes, Boston; Regina M. Hurley, Boston; Shiva Karimi, Boston; Hon. Rudolph Kass, Boston; Marsha V. Kazarosian, Haverhill; Andrea C. Kramer, Boston; Renée M. Landers, Boston; Richard L. Levine, Boston; Elizabeth N. Mulvey, Boston; Eric J. Parker, Boston; C. Max Perlman, Boston; Patricia M. Rapinchuk, Springfield; Martin R. Rosenthal, Boston; Jeffrey Sacks, Boston; Carol A. Starkey, Boston