The hybrid way of life
In March 2020, we were all told to work from home if we could – and it’s fair to say that many people relished the opportunity.
In fact, for many industries, the Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in a whole new way of working, and it’s much more flexible.
As life has started returning to normal and offices have reopened, many business owners have found still allowing a degree of home-working has been welcomed by employees.
Sara Hall, practice manager at Archers Law, in Stockton, said: “Over lockdown, we worked with the team to make sure they had the flexibility they needed to manage the ever-changing situation; we were happy for staff to take longer or later breaks to help with school runs, home-schooling and childcare.
“Since then, we’ve continued to give the majority of our staff, except those in strictly office-based roles such as reception and support roles, the option to work from home.
“We’re also carrying on allowing staff and teams a greater level of control over their working patterns and are providing support to those team members apprehensive about returning to an office.
“Moving forward, our plan is to keep hybrid working, with staff and teams managing their own diaries and retaining the options for clients to meet in the office or remotely.”
While there are undoubtedly many advantages to working from home, such as increased productivity, environmental benefits and a better work-life balance, some work still needs a more face-to-face approach.
Sara added: “We hold regular online briefings and events within the team, and we’ve had to adapt some parts of the way we work for clients.
“For example, over the course of the pandemic, video-witnessed wills were made legal. As with the current law, two witnesses were still required to safeguard and protect people against fraud or undue influence. In addition, a clear line of sight of the writing of the signature was required.
“However, we recognised that, for elderly or more vulnerable clients, this was less than optimal, so, once they were allowed again, we reinstated in-house appointments and home visits if necessary.”
Issues with identification, so important in legal matters, can also present problems virtually, although Sara says there are ways to work around this.
“We’ve set up a remote ID verification process through an external webpage, which means clients don’t always need to attend the office before their matter starts – that’s one less unnecessary physical meeting.”
Of course, clients aren’t the only people whose needs must be considered, and while many members of staff are happy working from home, Sara says it is still important for the team to socialise, particularly for those members who have started during the pandemic.
She said: “We held an online Christmas party in an escape room and we host regular virtual wellbeing days, such as Zoom yoga.
“We also had catch-ups over coffee on Zoom every fortnight during the lockdowns, which were invaluable, particularly for the new starters, and allowed team members to drop in and out as they pleased.
“While the pandemic has been awful, the one positive we’ve taken from it is the move way from the proscriptive 9-5, office-based culture, and it’s been great to see the positive effect it’s had on the team.
“We truly believe that hybrid working is the way forward and we are happy to be able to offer our staff the flexibility they need – after all, we’re all in the same boat.”
For more information about Archers and its range of services, visit https://www.archerslaw.co.uk/