Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, many law firms still operated through traditional office-based set-ups. Lockdowns opened the door for employees to work partially or even wholly from home, and as they have come to enjoy and benefit from the flexibility it gives them, this door is unlikely to close any time soon.
For hybrid or remote working models to run smoothly, employees must be able to get reliable, secure access to data and applications wherever and whenever they work. They must also be able to move seamlessly between working locations as and when required. However, many organisations are struggling to achieve this level of agility.
In order to assess how much work law firms still need to do, we surveyed 200 legal professionals from across the UK, and summarised the findings in our Legal Hybrid Working Report 2021. Their experiences over the previous 12 months have helped us identify five key trends within the sector:
Current tech is hindering hybrid working progress
It’s clear that there is significant interest within the industry to retain hybrid and remote working long after the pandemic has passed: 70% want to keep doing so longer-term.
However, similar numbers said that their experiences working remotely hadn’t always been plain sailing: 61% said their current technology had hampered their productivity when working remotely. So while many employees want to work from home on a regular basis, they don’t necessarily have all the tech they need to make it work for them.
Connectivity is the greatest remote working challenge
Reliable WiFi connection stands out as the biggest tech barrier that remote workers have had in maximising their productivity, with half of those surveyed flagging it up as an issue.
Much of this is down to employees relying on their home broadband connectivity, which is out of the control of their IT teams, and which employees have to try and fix themselves in the event of any issues. But this is only one of a range of problems that employees face when working away from the office - 20% said that their telephony solution was what hindered them.
Virtual collaboration is crucial but difficult
Different businesses and different employees work in different ways. Because of this, experiences in how they collaborate - whether internally with colleagues or external with clients - are bound to vary to an extent. 45% of respondents said they found it harder to collaborate virtually, but 48% said it was either easier or about the same. This demonstrates that virtual collaboration is undeniably a difficulty for many.
As Oosha co-founder Matthew Newton says in the full report: “The fact that 24% have found working with colleagues easier in a virtual environment demonstrates the potential for improving collaboration through tech, especially when the tools that support it are configured correctly.”
Remote working support is patchy across the sector
Only 48% of respondents felt their employers had done enough to support their remote working experiences.
At a time of great change within the legal industry, and amid a highly competitive job market, employees who don’t deliver good remote working experiences will quickly find it difficult to employ top talent. This also goes for existing employees, who will quickly move to where the grass is greener.
Cyber security risks are emerging
When working remotely, many employees are turning to their own personal devices. Some 70% say they’ve used personal devices to complete tasks, 44% for emails, 34% for video conferencing and 18% for file transfers.
This trend is not necessarily a problem for firms if robust security measures are put in place, but this isn’t always the case: IT Pro research found more than 60% of businesses don’t mandate anti-virus software installation on employees’ personal devices. Given the harsh consequences to business - operationally, financially and reputationally - if data or applications are breached, ensuring personal devices are secure should be a top priority.
How can you respond to the hybrid working revolution? Get expert insight on what these trends could mean for your organisation, and discover the tech-led solution that can guide your way forward, in the full Oosha Legal Hybrid Working Report 2021. Download your free copy here.