We’re a year into the pandemic from when schools, businesses and most of the country shut down. Some businesses were able to transition in this environment with minimal disruption to productivity, while others weren’t. Your business may be back to operating in the manner it was before everything shut down. As a member of a law firm, we aren’t there, and likely won’t return to how things were at the beginning of March 2020.
Attorneys at our firm were long able to log in remotely from home or elsewhere (or vacation…). Our IT people did amazing work deploying all attorneys, paralegals and staff in a few short days. Having all of our assistants, accounting staff and others work remotely hadn’t been on our radar. Now it will, in part, be our future.
Before the pandemic, my partners and I knew as new attorneys came out of law school, their expectations on how and where they work would be different from those of new attorneys from just a decade ago. Think hoteling offices and hybrid work weeks. The pandemic has accelerated these discussions and when decisions will have to be made.
The main difference is it now involves all employees, not just attorneys. This will result in fundamental changes in how people and teams work. Maybe my team and I will be in the office three days a week and another will be there two, with one day crossing over.
Some people would prefer all employees come back five days a week. There is something to be said for what happens when people are in the same office in relation to collaboration, consultation and culture. Those pushing for five days a week are right, as are the those pushing for hybrid schedules for all. There are no easy answers.
Companies have to commit to plan and execute. The current business environment is the future and it is coming at us fast. Many people continue to work remotely and some will never go back to a physical office.
As a business you have to come up with a plan and stick to it, i.e. the equivalent of doing what you say you are going to do. If you don’t, your employees will not trust you and it will affect potential hires in the future.
Part of committing to the current environment is being honest with your employees. This doesn’t mean your company won’t have to adapt as you try new work schedules and ideas. It means you will have to try things and see what works, as well as what doesn’t. Then you will have to keep adjusting, just in a different manner than you may have thought a year ago.
Remember, change, while difficult at times, brings opportunity. Be ready to change or be left behind.