New Hudgell Solicitors chief executive Rachel Di Clemente has announced the firm is to allow its legal specialists to continue working remotely – with increased flexibility around their working hours – beyond the current Covid-19 requirements.
A ‘flexible working policy’ has been communicated to staff, assigning each lawyer to a ‘supervising office’ in measures which will allow most team members to work from home for between two and four days per week.
Mrs Di Clemente says the change is being introduced to ensure the firm continues to ‘do the best for both colleagues and clients’.
She says the new approach will strike a balance between the benefits of colleagues working together in the office and the flexibility of adjusting their working day to suit personal commitments and client needs.
Mrs Di Clemente has announced the change having seen all of the firm’s offices successfully adapt to remote working over the past two months, since the UK went into lockdown on March 23rd.
“The solid performance of the firm over the last few years ensured we were in a strong position at the start of this pandemic and we were therefore able to support continued full-time employment for over 95% of our staff by investing in and facilitating remote working,” she said.
“Now we feel we need to be brave and take the step towards a new future.
“I know our lawyers will appreciate being able to save on dreaded travel time and by flexing their hours to accommodate personal circumstances such as childcare, and by reducing the number of people in our offices on a daily basis, we will automatically take a significant step towards better social distancing as restrictions ease.”
Flexible hours introduced to extend time lawyers are available to clients
Under the new arrangement, lawyers will be able to spend more days each week working from home the further they live from one of the firm’s ‘supervising offices’ (where the relevant supervising solicitor is based).
Flexible working hours are also being introduced, meaning solicitors will now be able to flex the hours they work between 7am-7pm, helping the firm become more readily available to serve clients for a longer period each day, rather than the traditional 9-5.
“Managers are being given discretion over their teams in terms of how they best make these new arrangements work for their colleagues and their clients,” Mrs Di Clemente added.
“For the past couple of years we have increasingly worked in this way from our London office given the difficulties of commuting in and out of the capital on a daily basis. We have become more flexible and this is effectively a wider roll-out across the entire business, with more structure and formality to it.
“Everybody knows they must be prepared to travel to their supervising office and attend important engagements such as client appointments, meetings with counsel and court hearings, regardless of whether this will normally be a remote working day.
“That can be achieved with good planning and by ensuring all staff have a number of days each week where they are working from one of our office locations.”
‘Supervising offices’ will ensure firm retains ‘sense of belonging, leadership and direction’
Mrs Di Clemente feels it would be ‘wrong’ to move to a position where all staff worked from home all the time, pointing to the need to maintain a sense of belonging and togetherness, as well as leadership and direction.
“Our role will always be to provide our teams with the managerial direction and technical support they need to do their jobs as effectively and efficiently as possible on behalf of our clients, wherever they are, and that is something we do well,” she said.
“Over the past few weeks we have seen a clear demonstration that legal work, particularly civil matters, can progress if the right technology is in place, no matter where they are. Our internal communications have also been very effective and efficient through video calling and messaging platforms.
“We know we need to ensure we retain that sense of belonging to the firm and that lawyers don’t become isolated individuals. It’s also very important that people who join the firm become fully embedded in the company culture and our values around client care.
“However, I truly believe that by adopting this flexible approach we can enhance the work/life balance for our staff, add to our service to clients and become a really appealing firm for the best lawyers to come and work for.
“People don’t want to have to travel to and from a busy city five days a week, adding an extra two or three hours onto their busy days commuting. “
“It is all about finding a balance which best benefits the business and our staff, but at all times ensures we deliver the best possible services to clients. I am confident we’ll have more motivated, happy staff in the long run, and a more efficient business too.”