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Today, as most law firms navigate our post-pandemic world, it’s important that we have more conversations about the need for hybrid working models and legal practice management software. In most cases, law firms were forced to adopt a new working environment overnight at the beginning of the pandemic. During this “fight or flight” period, some law firms were able to manage this transition with little downtime or disruption to their business. However, there are still several law firms struggling with hybrid working models and creating operational efficiencies that allow staff to be successful while growing profits. Unlike traditional working models, hybrid working models are designed to be flexible and can adapt to any business. From solo and small firms to large and complex legal firms, there are 5 different hybrid working models that you can begin to implement at your firm.
TYPES OF HYBRID WORKING MODELS:
▪ Office-First: This is the most traditional and most resistant to where the industry is currently headed. Here, legal staff would be required to be in office most of the time with remote work being the exception or a “perk”.
▪ Split-Week: By far the most common type of hybrid working model, it allows a specific timeframe that all staff is in the office or working remotely. An example of this would be a Monday-Wednesday in-office schedule with staff working remotely Thursdays and Fridays.
▪ Week-by-Week: This model allows staff to alternate weeks they’re in-office or remote throughout the month. Law firms that utilize this model typically use business needs or busy seasons as a guide to gauge where staff is allocated.
▪ Designated Hybrid Teams: Depending on the type / functionality of staff (administrative assistants, finance department, IT, etc.) certain teams would have the ability to work remotely while others, depending on the sensitivity of tasks, would work in-office.
▪ At-Will and Remote-First: This is another common hybrid working model that some law firms are likely moving towards. It would allow for co-working spaces, but staff would have the option to prioritize working remotely.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT THE BEST HYBRID WORK MODEL FOR YOUR LAW FIRM?
Now that we’ve identified the various types of hybrid working models, the actual work is deciding the model that works best for your firm. It will surely take some planning, but it’s important to start by evaluating the working pattern of your office. This can be done by asking yourself a few simple questions about your staff and how the model would benefit their success while creating processes that improve business efficiency. These are a few questions you’ll want to nail down in your evaluation:
• What is your staff comfortable with?
• What aspects of your firm may be impacted or improved?
• What are the financial implications for your firm?
Once you have an idea of your business and staff needs, you can then begin to experiment with the model. As we mentioned earlier, hybrid working models are conceived to be adapted. It’s crucial that you first do a trial run of the model and then evaluate performance. Incorporating this experimental period from the beginning will allow your firm to create a more sustainable hybrid working environment in the long run.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LEGAL PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE AND HYBRID WORK MODELS?
Here, it’s very important to note that these benefits cannot be achieved without the use of technology, like Legal Practice Management software or LPMs. Cloud-based LPMs, like Beveron’s Smart Lawyer Office for instance, increase productivity by better allocating staff time and allow collaboration to flourish across teams. Lawyers can freely work from anywhere, creating better work-life balance which is often a concern in the fast-paced legal industry. This benefit also doubles as a tactic when it comes to hiring and competing for talent. With almost 49% of millennials and Gen Z responding that they would quit their jobs if remote work was not allowed, it’s imperative that law firms start to consider hybrid working models as a tool to retain and attract staff or risk losing valuable talent. The same is true for retaining and generating new business. Client demand for legal services and digital processes has increased substantially due to the available resources online. Law firms resistant to expanding into the digital space could experience a decline in business.
Many of the above concerns stem from unfamiliarity with the technology and the power of using the best law firm software. Having an all-in-one platform, like Smart Lawyer Office, keeps all your firm’s operations and sensitive information in a secure, central location. With the use of data encryption, your firm can easily perform functions such as sending documents for eSignature, managing billing and processing online payments without leaving the platform or risking compliance. The accessibility that LPMs offer allows for seamless collaboration and staff visibility with the use of workflows, calendars, and internal chats.