Since the outbreak, the majority of law companies have struggled. Initially, the issue was finding a way to make remote work effective for law firms. The challenge now is how and when to enter the new normal. Many sectors have already made decisions on how their workplaces will evolve. But the legal profession continues to be undecided about how to proceed. The majority of firms are unsure which way will best benefit their clients and attorneys.
One reason for this difficulty is the same reason the sector is unique. It is steeped in history, which clients and senior attorneys have no desire to alter. However, as technology advances and a desire for flexibility grows, leadership sees the value of remote work.
Is it time to bring back full-time in-office attorneys, or should remote law companies continue to exist? Or is it time to make a concession and adopt a flexible work schedule?
Many believed COVID-19 was obsolete by the summer of 2021. As a result, company owners and management began reopening and rehiring staff. Initially, all organizations retained some flexibility when returning to office employees. For many, the comeback started with a mixed work model. But this was not the one-size-fits-all solution that was the hope. Numerous lawyers remained hopeful for a full-time office solution.
The emergence of vaccines provided many workers with the security they required to feel secure. Numerous corporations and firms now require immunization before returning to the office. As a result, fully vaccinated lawyers have returned to full-time office work. Not everyone is open to the vaccine for different reasons, including health concerns, religious beliefs, and even politics. As a result, corporations have to choose how to proceed while keeping each group in mind.
The CDC already recommends that unvaccinated individuals wear masks. However, enforcing it creates a slew of new challenges. HIPAA prohibits any employer from requiring proof of immunization. The ADA prevents employees from being required to disclose disabilities that preclude them from wearing masks or receiving vaccinations.
Trying to force people to wear masks or get flu shots may not be good. It can create feelings of alienation, marginalization, and discrimination. As an attorney, you are probably familiar with the concerns in each of these cases. However, does this suggest that remote or hybrid work is a preferable option?
Working from home is the ideal combination of work and life for some people. They avoid the frustration of daily commuter gridlock. Additionally, you save money on fuel and dry cleaning.
However, in certain situations, the benefits may not outweigh the drawbacks. For many, remote employment may even exacerbate existing issues. The topic of gender disparity in the home is a frequent occurrence. Females frequently take a more significant role in caring for others in many households. As a result, caring for aging parents or children makes getting the job done more difficult. Working from home may be much more stressful in this instance.
Another prevalent issue is that many schools have been closed till 2020. Children receiving their education through online education became a huge source of contention. On top of their labor, parents assumed the duties of principals and teachers.
Others expressed anxiety about the prospect of being summoned to the office. Since 2020, mental health issues have been on the rise, with anxiety and depression rates continuing to grow. Compounded with the fear of returning to the office, this may be too much for some legal professionals.
For some, reestablishing normalcy is crucial.
Despite planning and effort, businesses may be diverted from office tasks. New issues are emerging as a result of new COVID limits and variants. State and federal regulations constantly change, compelling businesses to alter their plans.
Teams have been working non-stop to develop solutions that allow everyone to return to work. It is the most significant issue confronting every law company. Most have recognized that working remotely is a viable option in the short run. However, the majority would agree that this is a poor long-term business plan. Reuniting workers for training and mentoring is in the industry’s best interests.
Numerous law firms have attempted to allay fears by promising concessions. Most have even postponed their return to work until after Labor Day.
While working remotely was first supposed to be an exception, it is swiftly becoming the norm for some people.
This idea that full-time, in-person labor is always preferable overlooks or dismisses past experiences. People have been juggling a job and personal issues, disability, or significant external obligations.
This will necessitate the development of some novel solutions. Businesses may need to enforce regulations developed by in-office and remote employees while continuing to use technologies that enable remote employees to engage in team-building events.
Every week, it appears as though the CDC releases new guidelines. On the other hand, state and local governments provide scant direction and assistance. As a result, all return-to-office strategies developed by legal firms are constantly changing.
This continual transition has left top management in the majority of organizations perplexed. Sadly, there are none at the moment. All they may be able to do is provide much-needed assistance to their members.
Change is challenging in any culture, even more so in light of recent changes in the workplace and societal norms. Even the appearance of the courtroom has evolved. This could be a window of opportunity to usher in a difference in the legal profession. With firm competitiveness, client demand, and external accountability measures all urging change, the moment to return to the office may be up to attorneys.