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Don’t go back to the old ways

Now it’s spring, the sun is shining, people are out mowing the lawn instead of being trapped in the living room, and we have the basis of a roadmap, it feels there is a positive vibe in the air. It’s a good time to embrace this new beginning.

I also think now is a good time to reflect on what we have learnt over the past 12 months. One of the biggest takeaways is not to fall back into old habits. Before, we were rigid. Now, we are agile.

To highlight this point, a conversation recently had with a Top 200 firm was an eye-opener. Prior to lockdown, they had a team of half a dozen people to manage their concierge and travel booking, as many law firms do.

The need for this disappeared when the staff began working from home and physical meetings and conferences were cancelled. The team members were either furloughed, redeployed elsewhere in the firm (sometimes being upskilled and becoming more valuable to the firm). Or sadly, they were let go.

But now we are starting to gear up to get back into the office, these roles are once more being discussed. But the reality is that managing the physical side of working is a little redundant. It may be some time before we’ll be traveling frequently.

These people are at the mercy of a knee-jerk reaction by law firms keen to reinstate them and return to ‘the old ways’, only to find themselves not needed when the work simply isn’t there.

Which brings me to my point about being agile. certainly, we’ve seen many firms lean on us for this reason: they need help – flexibly.

After the first lockdown a year ago, calls to law firms shot up by 27%. Something many weren’t prepared for. So they needed to turn-up or turn-down their support requirement as needed, which we could fulfil. And now they won’t go back to how they worked before. They’ve learnt to be agile.

Chris Bull summed this up brilliantly in a recent webinar. We’re more punctual with our meetings now than we ever have been before. We hear the ‘beep beep’ telling us we have a Teams or Zoom call, which we can enter with the click of a button.

We have more control over our time too. Online meetings can be scheduled for 40 minutes instead of an hour and people respect the time limit.

The same goes for blocking out our day and respecting those who also do this. We can have a full day of going Zoom, Zoom, Zoom – but really, what does that achieve? I know a few people who think nothing of saying ‘no meetings in the morning’, and their colleagues observe this.

This is something we should hold on to from working through lockdown.

The past 12 months have been startling. But now spring is here and those green shoots are appearing, let’s not toss aside all we’ve learnt and go back to the ‘usual’. I firmly believe we can keep these agile behaviours back into the office and the future.

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