phased return to work

COVID-19 has changed working patterns for good and resulted in home working, becoming a trend that is here to stay.

From altering the layout of offices to investing in the latest technology, companies have needed to adapt to keep employees safe and enable them to carry on doing their jobs remotely. The traditional 9-to-5 working hours will soon become a thing of the past as employers offer flexible working between the office and at home.

A phased return to work reduces the number of people in the office at any one time, lowering the risk of spreading the virus in the workplace.

But how would a phased return to work affect the running of a law firm?

Returning to the office vs working from home

We describe the pros and cons to consider when deciding whether your employees should return to the office or continue to work remotely.

Returning to the office

Pros:

  • Working from home is not for everyone: whether it’s because of a lack of a workspace, a motivation problem or because some people prefer to separate work and home life.
  • Collaboration: Employees who work alongside each other often develop new ideas and improve processes.
  • Social interaction: It has been proven that working with other people is good for our mental health and will prevent feelings of isolation.

Cons:

  • Commuting: Using public transport carries an increased risk of people coming into contact with COVID-19. Many people also find that commuting adds to the stress of work.
  • Health and safety concerns: Reopening an office comes with new regulations that need to be met to protect the safety of employees. Items such as screens and hand sanitizer stations will need to be provided and maintained.

Continuing to work from home

Pros:

  • Reduced running and office costs: A team of remote workers can reduce operating costs such as the amount of office space required and facilities such as tea, coffee and office supplies. Companies also find remote workers take fewer unscheduled absences, which can generate savings for a business.
  • Improved employee retention: Homeworking can help retain valuable employees by giving them the flexibility to strike the important work/life balance. Happy staff means more motivated and productive employees.
  • Homeworking is less stressful: Remote workers can avoid the hassle of daily commutes which saves time and money. Many people also appreciate being able to work when and where they want, meaning they can work around other commitments to achieve a less stressful lifestyle.

Cons:

  • Confidentiality and data security: Staff should be provided with all the technology they need to work safely to prevent them from using personal equipment, which may not have the appropriate security measures in place.
  • Communication problems: Messages can get lost in translation via electronic means which can cause misunderstandings between colleagues and clients.
  • Team building becomes more difficult: It can be difficult for teams to bond remotely, which could impact learning and result in colleagues not knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Why a phased return to work could be the right step for your law firm

Rather than a full return to the office or a permanent remote working situation, many industries, including the legal sector, are introducing blended working environments. Work that can be done from home is carried out there, with an option to visit the office for meetings or other essential work. For the latest guidance on working safely during the pandemic, visit the government website.

For legal firms, this combination could allow the sector to provide their employees with the perfect work/life balance while providing a collaborative and innovative space for staff to get together if required.

We can help your legal firm to support staff during a phased return to work. Get in touch with our IT experts to find out how our services can ensure a productive work set up for employees.