LONDON (Within the Law) - With restrictions being lifted, Britain is getting back to work, and for many junior lawyers it can’t come soon enough. Lockdown has been tough. Workloads have been high, while the chance to learn from senior colleagues and adjust to life living in the city, has gone.
Many, you would have thought, will be looking to get back into the office. Or will they?
The reality is a little more complicated. According to recent data from Legal Cheek, only 52 percent of junior lawyers said they were looking forward to getting back to the office. Others were not so sure. Of those who were not keen to get back, the key reasons were long work hours combined with the daily commute.
Their reluctance is mirrored by many of their employers. While the likes of Goldman Sachs have decried work from home as an aberration, many law firms have been surprised about how well it worked. Contrary to expectations, data shows little difference between working hours at home and in the office. Indeed, if anything, people have been more productive, being able to devote more of their daily routine which would otherwise have been consumed by travelling to their work.
As such, many of the country’s top law firms plan to adopt a more flexible approach to future working. Linklaters will allow people to work away from the office for half the time. So too will Clifford Chance and Freshfields. Others have allowed staff to mix and match between home and the office. A few, such as Dentons, have even switched some of their staff to full WFH schedules.
The hybrid working model is very much here to stay but this will create challenges for companies around the wellbeing of staff. People have reacted differently to lockdown. Some have welcomed the flexibility it brought and the ability to cut out the rigours of the commute.
Others have missed the camaraderie and ability to socialise with colleagues. For Junior lawyers who rely on personal contact for a valuable learning experience, being able to work in the office is particularly valuable. Those companies who get this right will be the ones who realise that there is no one size fits all approach. Understanding the requirements of their workforce and the importance of their wellbeing will be crucial to getting the most out of staff at all levels.
(Written by Tom Cropper, edited by Klaudia Fior)