legal technology, Hybrid Working | 28 October, 2021

Hybrid working in the legal sector: three big challenges

The legal sector has been affected just as much as any other by the pandemic, and certainly in terms of the way that firms operate day-to-day. It’s become clear that more flexible working models such as hybrid working are here to stay, and so it’s critical that companies in the industry respond to new employee expectations.

Central to achieving this is giving employees full support from a technological standpoint. This means that they should be able to be fully productive wherever and whenever they’re working, and whatever hardware they’re using. They should also be able to seamlessly move between devices and locations whenever they need to, without compromising their access to the data and applications they need.

While a number of companies in the legal sector have had great success in embracing hybrid working over the last year or so, many others are struggling. And while every firm is different, three particular issues are proving to be all too common:

“The switch”

As has been the case for a while, many legal professionals have been using virtual sessions to work from home. However, with the rise in usage of resource heavy applications like Microsoft Teams for video calls, this has often been a struggle.

As a result, they’ve had to switch to local machines to be able to host or participate in video calls. This switching in and out is time-consuming and inconvenient, but this is only really the start of the problem. When users switch to the local machine for a call, they don’t have access to all the data, applications and other important information that’s hosted within their virtual session. 

This means users have to transfer all the documents they think they’ll need for a call to the local machine in advance, but also means they can easily be caught out if an unexpected need for a particular document crops up. This would pose significant difficulties for internal calls, and could be especially damaging on calls with clients if employees are seen not to be prepared with all relevant information to hand.

“The dodge”

It’s human nature to try and find the path of least resistance to getting things done. This is certainly the case within the legal sector, where heavy workloads and pressured time constraints mean any efficiencies are worth finding.

In the case of business IT, some employees have shunned the software and hardware provided by their employees and have used their own devices and applications instead. The reasons for this are varied: corporate-issued hardware being too old or too slow, the security provision or user authentication on the devices being too cumbersome or complicated, or the ease of doing all business and personal activity from one device.

From an employer’s perspective, this spread of ‘shadow IT’ - devices and applications beyond the oversight of the company’s IT team - is fraught with security risk. Companies have no ability to ensure vulnerabilities are patched or data is properly handled and secured on these devices. This can lead to major dangers around compliance and data loss, along with the financial inefficiency of investing in hardware and software that employees don’t use.

“The struggle”

Of course, employees using their own devices under a properly devised Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) set-up isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

But in this situation, it’s essential that they can get reliable, consistent access to all of the applications and data they need, whichever device they use and wherever they use it. Employees will feel significantly inconvenienced if they are restricted to just one device to work from.

This is particularly the case for hybrid workers who will naturally turn to their smartphone or tablet first when certain jobs or tasks crop up, as they are the devices within reach all the time.

In summary

The ease of flexible working is becoming an increasingly important differentiator in the legal sector job market. Firms who demonstrate that employees can work flexibly with ease, and are given user-friendly and secure technology to do so, will find it far easier to attract and retain talent than those that can’t. That’s why there’s no time to lose in addressing these three challenges and delivering the effective hybrid working model that so many employees are looking for in the long-term.

Employees can work with ease wherever they need to, with Oosha’s Virtual Desktop, designed with the legal sector in mind. Take a closer look at how we can support law firms like yours in the post-pandemic world of work here.

Posted by Liam Stainer

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