Have you joined the millions of workers who’ve returned to the office? Not everyone has. And maybe you haven’t, either. Many companies still haven’t gotten their employees the all-clear to come back. In fact, it’s looking as though there will be a “new normal” for a lot of workers — alternating time between the home office and the “away” office.
There are a lot of good reasons for law firms to maintain what’s being called a hybrid work environment. Many of those advantages, such as flexibility and lower overhead, apply to small firms and solo practices as well as larger organizations.
If you’re thinking that hybrid makes sense for the way you practice today, there are strategies for organizing and maintaining your workflow so that you can maximize those advantages. You’ve probably put many of these “pandemic protocols” in place already. If not, now’s the time. In many cases, you may need to beef up at least some of these new-normal best practices for your practice:
Keep an even keener eye on your calendar
Are there meetings with other attorneys or potential clients that could truly benefit from that face-to-face interaction? With meeting places like coffeehouses and restaurants opening up again, you can set up these kinds of important interactions once again. Don’t rely on Zoom to maintain these connections. In-person meetings can be a much more engaging and profitable approach.
Make sure someone is handling calls during the business day
With you and your colleagues often spread out or “in the field,” calls from current and potential clients might fall through the cracks. One approach to avoid that: Set up a “rotation” so that someone is always on call to take calls (and emails too). If you operate a solo practice, consider connecting your phone line with your laptop or tablet so that you handle calls while you work.
Get out of the office – whichever office you’re in
Just like you might have tried to do on one of your lunch breaks at your home office during the pandemic, try and do things like take a walk, run an errand, or go grab lunch. These also can serve as opportunities to touch base and catch up with a colleague or a regular client.
Pay closer attention to your IT
An up-to-date, well-maintained digital infrastructure has always been crucial to your firm’s smooth operation, of course. In a hybrid environment, there are some added complexities:
Connectivity. You and your colleagues might need to update your routers and connectivity plans so that you don’t drop connections during an important video call.
Software. You’ve undoubtedly added online video call capabilities via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other platforms. Do you also have in place legal tech and knowledge management systems that allow you to easily – and safely – share contracts, legal briefs, and other information with clients and colleagues?
Cybersecurity. Conducting your practice via a high-powered laptop can make you more efficient, allowing you to take your office anywhere. If your firm consists of more than you, you’ll want to make sure that everyone’s digital devices have real-time threat detection and monitoring. You’re also connecting to the Internet away from your accustomed home or office ISP. Wherever you’re working, make sure your connection isn’t inadvertently opening the door for potential thieves to access your data.
Also, something very basic: Don’t leave that laptop in your car or otherwise unattended. It’s still one of the most common ways that cyberthieves get access to a business’s data. There’s also been a massive increase in phishing attacks in the past couple of years. Follow safety rules to determine that that email is really from a client or vendor and not from a cybercrook in disguise.
To thrive in a hybrid work world, it’s all about reconnecting and staying connected, both online and in person. By following some simple practices and precautions, you can make the new way to work truly work for you.
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