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Virtual Roundtable Discussion: Returning to work

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Returning to work: another virtual roundtable with our legal recruitment and HR community

We recently hosted another roundtable with a select group of law firm recruitment contacts.

It was a very lively and insight-packed discussion, mainly focused on returning to the workplace and how that might look in the coming months.

We had 14 attendees across two sessions from a range of different law firms, ranging from larger international firms to smaller UK outfits.  

Here are the highlights from what we discussed:

Increased productivity

Fascinatingly, many attendees reported a clear increase in productivity levels compared to this time last year. Despite some initial fears, remote working has actually exceeded expectations.

Many secretaries in particular had not previously worked from home, and for our partners it has been working so well that it may become the norm.

There’s also been a clear increase in training requests and training carried out at firms,which has increased efficiencies.

Better adoption of technology

The pandemic has forced some areas of work that were paper-based to finally move online, which is undeniably positive.

There have also been clear signs of more adoption of technology, and employees wanting to improve their digital skills.

According to the attendees, it’s clear that these skills will be useful as lockdown ends – but also will ensure staff can continue to work efficiently at home too.

Improved communications

In most cases, our contacts reported improved levels of communication throughout the pandemic so far.

HR have increased the level of contact with new employees, and employees have, on the whole, given really good feedback about their onboarding processes.

Communication between offices has also been cited as an improvement, and staff have regularly praised virtual wellbeing sessions that have been introduced.

Planning for a return

Employee questionnaires have been carried out across the board to see how employees feel about returning to work.

Key questions have included whether they want to return to the office, if they have health conditions, and if they have children. All of this information will help to shape a re-opening strategy tailored to every employee. 

Risk assessments are being carried out and safety measures introduced – including plastic screens, floor markers, an end to hot desking and carefully spaced desks.

Other considerations include phased returns, focusing on smaller regional offices first, and a policy of voluntary returns. It was also noted that many overseas offices have re-opened, from which there is much to learn.

Whatever happens, it’s widely expected that remote working will continue for many staff, at least some of the time.

We look forward to hosting our next roundtable event soon, when we can start to build a consensus of what the new norm looks like for firms.

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