How Does a “Work From Anywhere” Policy Actually Work at a Law Firm?
March 21, 2020
Here at the Forrest Firm, we recognize the need for attorneys to take time away from work to creatively recharge and that not everyone works the best during traditional business hours or in a traditional office setting. We also believe in taking personal responsibility for managing time, workload, and results, and we would like to have a corporate culture of personal responsibility and mutual trust. We view our employees as people rather than commodities. To that end, the Firm implemented a “work from anywhere policy” for attorneys. We believe our approach leads to high retention, productivity, and most importantly–happy people that deliver great service to our clients.
- The Firm does not track or limit attorney vacation times or sick days – we encourage attorneys to take the time they need to operate at peak performance.
- Attorneys are welcome to shift their schedules to match their work style and enhance productivity, with the caveat that they must also understand that all of our team members do not work on their schedule.
- We have dedicated office/workspace available for attorneys as needed. If a Firm attorney wants to work from home, great. If a Firm attorney wants an office to come into, that’s great too. If a Forrest Firm attorney wants to work remotely (at a client site or on a tropical island) – fantastic. As long as clients are happy (and they generally are based on our service standards), the Firm is happy to provide leading flexibility to our attorneys. We often say we have “unreasonably high service standards” but gladly trade against that with unbridled flexibility for our attorneys.
- This practice results in a reduced carbon footprint for our firm.
Naturally, for a policy like this to work well, both management and attorneys must adhere to certain standards and practices:
- Keep co-workers informed. Attorneys should let colleagues know when they’ll be on vacation and report in on days they need to be out unexpectedly. Communication (in fact, over-communication) in this area is essential. We use Slack regularly with status updates.
- Attorneys should be available when needed. Client calls, emails, meetings, etc., and other time-sensitive responsibilities must be covered regardless of an attorney’s personal work schedule. Our attorneys enjoy optimum flexibility but with that comes a high degree of responsibility and ownership regarding client satisfaction.
- Be productive. All full-time Forrest Firm attorneys are expected to contribute to the team with a base level of productivity.
While this approach may sound nice to many, you may be thinking it’s simply not practical. So how have we made it work so well for more than five years now? Here is of list of some practical steps that have worked for us:
- Purchase laptop computers for all attorneys and staff
- Use cloud-based, encrypted file management systems and communication platforms
- Take advantage of video conferencing and VOIP call systems
- Implement an online invoice payment system
- Use DocuSign electronic agreements or another electronic system
- Implement a virtual internal communication tool to ensure camaraderie and ease of communication among team members
- Have a generous travel reimbursement policy to encourage inter-office communication and visits
Lastly—and we can’t emphasize this one enough–our approach begins in the hiring process. We hire attorneys with an excellent track record of delivering high quality work and that are also responsible enough to handle large amounts of autonomy. We hire trustworthy people—the best of the best—which mitigates the downside risks of a policy like this.