People working in the UK offices of law firm Womble Bond Dickinson ("WBD") are being allowed to choose whether they wish to be office based, home based or a combination of the two, under the firm's new hybrid working model adopted from this month.
WBD is letting its people blend personal preferences with business and clients' needs without any mandatory requirements being set across the business, other than for those in learning roles. The decision follows a firmwide employee and partner survey asking how lawyers, professional advisers and business professionals wanted to work post-pandemic.
The new model provides a framework for people to agree whether they wish to be a homeworker; an office-based worker (with the possibility of working from home on an occasional basis); or a hybrid worker, splitting time between working at home and in the office, with the flexibility to choose if and when they go into the office.
Jonathan Blair, WBD's UK managing partner, commented: "Within three days of the first national lockdown back in March 2020, our 1,100-strong UK workforce were set up and working from home. It was a major logistical feat but not only has it worked well, it has shaped the future of our workplace now that restrictions are easing.
"Our new approach builds on the huge progress we have made over the last year and acknowledges the incredible work of our people in that time. Technological developments like electronic signatures have transformed our business practices and with investment in Microsoft Teams and other collaborative technologies, we have found new ways of hybrid working that suit our people without adversely affecting productivity or our ability to deliver excellent client service.
"As we open our offices up, a more flexible, hybrid model of working brings efficiencies in the way we spend our time, as well as making a continued impact on our environmental sustainability, reducing travel and our carbon footprint."
He explained: "We asked our people how they had found the last year, to tell us about the benefits and the challenges, and how they would prefer to work in the long term. A large majority said they wanted a blend of home and office working, had thrived working from home during the pandemic, and really wanted it to become a permanent feature of how our business operates. At the opposite end of the spectrum, many of our people also told us they were missing the office environment, wanting to socialise more, improve cross-team collaboration, support new joiners and make the most out of onsite training opportunities.
"Hybrid working offers a blend of all of these things and builds on the approach we already had in place, with many people working something other than the standard 9-5 full time office based role."