What are the drivers behind agile working in the legal sector
1. Enhanced service
Flexible working practices can enable law firms to work more responsively. By utilising contractors, seconding staff or offering job share and part-time opportunities, they can ‘ramp up’ or ‘ramp down’ according to their clients’ needs. Encouraging staff to collaborate and work in new ways will also help them to become more creative and adaptable to the needs of the business.
Firms can also enhance their services by outsourcing specific business functions, such as IT, switchboard services and other administrative functions to third party specialists. This allows them to access expert knowledge and bespoke technology at a fraction of what it would cost to manage these resources internally. They can also re-focus the priorities of their in-house staff, and encourage them to undertake more complex, business-critical tasks. This not only helps to meet organisational objectives but can also boost staff motivation.
Employing experts on a flexible, ad-hoc basis through human cloud providers is also becoming a key aspect of agile working. By using platforms such as People per hour or Upwork, businesses can hire freelancers for one-off projects and access on-demand expertise at a competitive rate.
While taking advantages of these platforms themselves, law firms should consider how they too can provide instant, round the clock support to their clients. The popularity of sites such as Rocket Lawyer and Upcounsel suggests that there’s a growing demand for instant access to legal expertise, and firms who provide a more flexible service may be more able to attract business and fend off competition.
Whether outsourcing to experts or investing internally, technology also has a key part to play in improving service. By using facilities such as video conferencing and instant messenger, firms can improve staff communication and increase their client focus.
It is worth bearing in mind however, that implementing new technology cannot, and should not, replace face-to-face communication entirely. In some situations, face-to-face contact will always be preferable, especially when it comes to areas such as staff management issues. In order to get the most from technology, it should be regarded as one of many useful tools that firms can take advantage of in order to work more successfully.
2. Improved productivity
By enabling staff to work from home, employees may find that they’re able to work more productively. They will no longer spend ‘dead time’ commuting and can adjust their working hours to the times when they work best, and when their clients need support. Giving staff this freedom can also improve their morale and focus, which again helps them to deliver excellent service.
When it comes to productivity, technology comes into play once again. Whether replacing office-based meetings with video conferencing, or working on projects via file-sharing software, tech-savvy firms can operate faster, drive costs down and keep clients satisfied. Using an external business support service to arrange conference calls, meetings or book transport on their behalf can also give fee earners more time to focus on high-priority work.
3. Attracting talent (and keeping it)
The biggest asset to any law firm is its staff, meaning it’s essential to hire the best employees. By giving staff the opportunity to work in more flexible ways, firms can attract wider talent and thereby improve their service. This will become increasingly important in the future; tomorrow’s junior lawyers will be accustomed to using the latest technology and will expect the opportunity to work in a practical and innovative way.
Many organisations have also recognised agile working as a key tool in addressing the gender gap. By offering employees more flexible alternatives to a traditional nine-to-five role, they are able to attract and retain more working mothers and make their teams stronger and more diverse.
By giving staff the opportunity to work at a time and place of their choice, firms can help to address these issues. Providing technology that will help them carry out their role more efficiently will also improve their motivation, while enabling them to make a more valuable contribution to the business.
4. Cost savings
The cost of London office space has rocketed in recent years. According to property agents, City rates have soared, while research from Savills claims that businesses pay an average of £15,000 per workstation in rents, rates and service charges. Reducing unnecessary rental space and improving operational efficiency is therefore a key objective for many firms.
By giving staff the opportunity to work remotely, or by outsourcing certain functions to external experts, the demand for desk space is eased. This gives firms the ability to evaluate their office space, move away from the practice of providing a fixed desk for every employee and make significant savings through reduced property costs.
ComXo provides specialist business support to over 200+ professional service firms across the City of London and beyond. Their range of services includes multilingual 24/7 switchboard provision, audio conferencing facilities and business support services, including ground transport, disaster recovery support, lone worker support which are designed to enable law firms to deliver cost-effective, exceptional service. For more information about ComXo please visit www.comxo.com