In association with LawWare: The traditional legal office used to be the breeding ground for your business culture. That's all changed

How do you keep your law firm’s culture alive in the “new normal”?

The traditional legal office used to be the breeding ground for your business culture. That’s all changed.

As we get to grips with the new reality of remote working, law firms face the challenge of maintaining their culture and values.

There is a number of key issues to address: impact, procedures, communication and management.

Address the impact

Workplace change is something that usually requires careful management. But, let’s face it, the change has already happened.

Take a long hard look at how this has impacted your team. Many will have taken to remote working like ducks to water – no more arduous commutes or balancing work, life and parental responsibilities. On the flip side of the coin, many may be struggling without a structure to their days, or a lack of appropriate home office space or even the isolation home working can bring.

To address these issues, you’ll need to provide your team with the tools to do the job – PC equipment that suits the home environment, new team-building approaches and new ways of social interaction.

 Virtual office procedures

So much has changed that many tried and tested procedures will no longer be relevant. You probably have an existing office manual or document of similar type. Rip it up and start again!

This is your opportunity to set new guidelines about what is expected from staff in a remote working environment. Some – like expected weekly contribution to workload – will be obvious, but others, such as client call handling, may require careful consensus and a fair degree of testing.

Communication

Communication is the heartbeat of your business culture. The tools for the job like email, a good telephony system that works in a home environment, Webex and Teams are only part of the package.

The other part is your availability policy. It used to be easy to button-hole a colleague in the office. Now, you may need clearer lines of communication. Your old open-door policy needs to morph into a virtual open-door policy.

Your plan for communication should be inclusive. It should cover contact between all staff and management. Perhaps formal, weekly, online meetings at different levels are the order of the day. So too are Informal catchups with staff. It’s all about encouraging open communication at all levels by setting an example yourself.

Management and monitoring

Many see remote working as an opportunity for staff to take a more laissez-faire outlook, with work playing second fiddle to other things. That shouldn’t be the case and you have tools at your disposal to ensure it doesn’t happen.

I recently spoke to a client who told me that his practice management software had really come into its own since lockdown. He uses it to keep tabs on matter progress, billing and work in progress – for his entire team.

A combination of all of these factors will help you transform your business culture in a chameleon-like way – allowing you to meet the new challenges and significantly assisting when it comes to the difficult issue of onboarding new staff.

Welcome to the new Culture Club.

More info

To find out more about how virtual office legal software can help your firm, contact us on 0345 2020 578 or innovate@lawware.co.uk Mike O’Donnell, LawWare Ltd.

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